From Ball Publishing's Acres Online we received the following press release.
Fox, MSNBC Launch Political Plant Brands
Late-breaking news from Spring Trials … Two new plant brands are coming onto the market, and both are aimed at capitalizing on the coming political season.
In its first-ever foray into floriculture, Fox News is launching a series of angel wing-type begonias called Right Wing Begonias, aimed, as the name implies, at red-state Republican gardeners.
Not to be outdone, television network MSNBC has countered with its own flower series, Leftunias, a line of petunias they say they’ll market to “progressive gardeners seeking new trends in neighborhood beautification.”
Both were last-day additions to the MasterTag display at Sakata during the California Spring Trials.
Why get involved in something as far-afield from news as gardening? Fox News Channel’s VP of Corporate Communications Sidney Finch told GrowerTalks that gardening has come heavily onto the radar of News Corporation executives (Fox’s parent company) in the wake of Michelle Obama’s White House gardening efforts (she’s launching a gardening book this spring) and also lucrative L&G advertising by major fertilizer companies and DIY retailers.
“We were looking for a way to reach mainstream America—our conservative viewers,” Sidney says. “And when we look at the red states, which are predominantly Southern and Midwestern, we thought that what they all have in common is gardening. [Gardening is] a wholesome American pastime.”
But apparently word of Fox’s plan leaked out to an MSNBC executive via a garden-enthusiast waiter at the famous Off the Record bar in Washington, D.C., who overheard a table of Fox employees discussing the idea. Humorously, at first, the waiter didn’t know it was gardening Fox was getting involved in. He thought it was something more sinister.
“When he heard the word ‘plant,’ he thought it meant plant as in spy or agent, and that ‘begonia’ was his code name,” an MSNBC spokesman told me from their Washington bureau. “When we found out it was garden plants, we decided to counterattack, and with something aimed at progressive gardeners in the blue states. Why should Fox have all the fun?”
Both news agencies told me they’d use retail sell-through data to gauge political leanings—a flower poll, if you will. (No word yet on what retail outlets will be carrying them.) Also, they hint that their could be widespread boosting of the programs by celebrity pundits such as Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
MasterTag’s Gerry Giorgio, who gave GrowerTalks the sneak peek at the new program, said they were approached by both news agencies within a week of one another back in January.
“We had begun work designing the Right Wing Begonia brand, but were a bit uncomfortable about being involved in something that could be so polarizing, politically,” Gerry says. “Then when MSNBC called and we came up with Leftunias, we were off the hook because now we had both sides of the political spectrum covered.” He admitted with a laugh that he’s considered calling the Ron Paul campaign about an independent-oriented brand, but doesn’t feel there’s enough retail potential expect in Arkansas and North Dakota, where Mr. Paul did well in the primaries.
No word on who the breeders of either series is; Gerry says they want to remain behind the scenes to avoid offending existing customers who may lean politically in the opposing direction.
As for the container for the new series? Gerry says that was a no-brainer. “Super Packs, of course,” he said with a smile. “We’ve already got a special mold being made.”
Got a comment on mixing politics and gardening? Let me know your thoughts HERE.
So, readers, what do you think of this development?
My first reaction was to start composing a rant, decidedly opposed to partisan politics mucking up our plant-buying decisions - especially this year! But then when I Googled the new plant names, the web came up with a big nothing for them. Then I noticed the date of the press release - April 1. Not just a day for pranks, but a Sunday, a day of rest for most PR folks.
So I wrote to the supposed author of the press release, Chris Beytes, editor and publisher of Grower Talks, and this was all news to him, so I'm considering it a hoax. But hey, they almost got me! Whoever "they" may be.