Microsoft Hires Mark Penn for Key Top Executive Slot

Dave "Doctor" Gonzo on a good move by Microsoft.

Yeah, yeah, I know: uberpollster Mark Penn takes a lot of heat from the progressive/liberals, particularly in the blogosphere and more strongly-left-leaning media.

But I know at least one critic of his centrist political bent who will tell you in private that "there are two people the party needs to keep listening to until it sinks in: Penn and [George] Lakoff."

Five years ago, Mark Penn's book "Microtrends" (reviewed at APJ by Jeff Koopersmith) took a look at the rise and importance of niche constituencies and fragmenting demographics in the wake of technological and cultural change. You can be sure that it influenced then-Senator Barack Obama's runs both for the Democratic nomination as presidential candidate and for the Oval Office. There is nobody on the left-of-center side of the fence who has Penn's handle on the interactions between demographics, messaging, and polling.

So we are urging you to read this newsflash from Politico this morning:

In a shakeup of Washington's public-affairs elite, Donald A. Baer, White House communications director under President Bill Clinton and a longtime media executive, on Thursday was named global chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller — the top job at the public-relations giant. Baer succeeds Mark Penn, who is joining Microsoft Corp. as corporate vice president, strategic and special projects, according to the Burson-Marsteller announcement. Penn, senior strategist for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, has Microsoft among his many top corporate clients, and has been an adviser to chairman Bill Gates. Baer joined Burson-Marsteller four years ago and has been a worldwide vice chairman and the chief strategy officer. Baer has also been serving as chairman of Burson-Marsteller's sister research firm, Penn Schoen Berland, and will continue in that role.

Let's just say it's a big-time loss for Burson-Marsteller.

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