Marketing the Presidency

June 14, 2016

Speaker: STEVE MIHALY, Retired Vice-President of the H.J. Heinz Co., and Political Historian”

Steve MihalyBio from Steve Mihaly: I am the recently retired Vice President of the HJ Heinz Co., Pittsburgh. My wife Kathy is a substitute school nurse in the North Allegheny and Deer Lakes School Systems, and we have lived in Gibsonia for over the past 20 years. We have one daughter, Katie, who currently lives in Hot Springs Virginia where she is a Guidance Counselor at Valley Elementary.

I began collecting political americana at the age of 10, and have now been collecting for over 50 years, with a collection that now encompasses over 20,000 items. However, this journey started out very humbly and simply. As a young kid, my parents loved to go to antique shops, garage sales, and flea markets…..travels that I did not particularly enjoy. However, I did enjoy American History and one day my dad bought a handful of old political buttons at one of these garage sales and gave them to me. Thus, it gave me something to do and seek out as I was dragged around to these events. From this, I’ve met hundreds of interesting people, including 4 US Presidents. I’ve been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines across the country, including in this area, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the Beaver County Times, The Butler Eagle, and Pittsburgh Magazine. For February, my wife daughter and I are on the front cover of Pine Township Neighbors, which has 10 pictures and a 3 page article on our latest adventures. In the article it mentions that I will be speaking at a couple of local historical societies in the near future, as well as that I’ll have a display of Penna. Presidential memoriabilia this July in Harrisburg. In March I spoke at the Beaver County Historical Society, and later on in that same month I spoke at the Westmoreland County Historical Society. I believe if you Google “Stephen Mihaly-Political Buttons” you’ll also find several articles about me and my political collection from newspapers around the country. Today, I still enjoy the thrill of “the hunt” and in particularly, sharing my love of political history.

About the Presentation From Steve Mihaly: I developed the “Marketing The Presidency” presentation 2 years ago in response to a friend’s request that I speak at the Joan Crawford Distinguished Speakers Series in Maryland. Most folks, when they hear the word”marketing” think of it as a relatively modern day term, but in terms of presidential candidates, from George Washington to today, candidates have been marketing themselves, their ideas, or marketing against their opponent, from the beginning. In particular, the presentation focuses on the array of “odd” artifacts that candidates have produced to get the candidate’s name and ideas in front of the electorate. Thus, some of the items in the presentation include a James Monroe snuff box promoting the Monroe Doctrine, a Teddy Roosevelt cast iron door stop, an Eisenhower bar of soap with Ike’s image on it and the words “Clean Up With Ike” and a Richard Nixon shower head where the water comes squirting out of his mouth, just to name a few. Thus, the presentation tends to focus on the whimsical, while at the same time, explaining to the audience why the candidate would actually produce such an oddity and what is the historical significance behind it.

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