President Obama sent heads spinning earlier this year by giving the Prime Minister of Britain a gift that some deemed hardly worthy in comparison to the gift that the Prime Minister gave to the President.
The Prime Minister, if you recall, gave the President Obama a pen holder crafted from the timbers of the 19th century British warship HMS President (whose sister ship, HMS Resolute, provided the wood for the Oval Office’s desk), while the President gave the Prime Minister a collection of 20 classic American DVD’s. The First Lady didn’t help matters when she provided the Brown’s two young sons toy models of Air Force One, compared to the Brown’s who gave the Obama daughters fashionable dresses and matching necklaces from Britain’s famous Top Shop and a variety of books by British authors. [NY Daily News]
Well, apparently, the faux pas aren’t over.
Recently, Robyn Spizman an author and nationally acclaimed gift giving expert contacted the White House over the President’s gifts to the Queen and the Prime Minister at the London G20 summit. What were the gifts you ask?
While, Spizman supported the President’s “non-traditional” choice of gift, she suggested it might have been “more appropriate” to use the Ipods as “gift toppers” placed with larger gifts that had a more permanent value that would have made a lasting place in history.
These gifts – referred to as head of state gifts -‚ from one leader to another symbolize goodwill, mutual respect and friendship – especially so in the case of Great Britain. They further diplomatic efforts among nations with contradictory world viewpoints. Spizman stresses that these gifts have historical longevity and a personal touch – afterall, “What does the gift say about the giver, and about the country he or she comes from? …Now more than ever, it’s important to look at products that truly represent the heart, soul and spirit of a nation.”
For instance, the gifts from China’s President Hu Jintao gave the President a one of a kind custom made vase by Franz Porcelain, a Chinese manufacturer located in Jinzdezhen -‚ the homeland of porcelain – who is known for its exquisitely handcrafted and handpainted porcelain sculptures.‚ Another example is the Prim wristwatch that the Czechoslovakian Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek gave President Obama. Prim is a maker of classic and sport-style Czech watches with cases crafted of platinum, gold, stainless steel or damask steel.
Head of state gifts, as Spizman says,‚ can create new traditions, celebrate past ones, help the global artist community or pay tribute to handcrafted artistry. “Gifts that leave a legacy and represent cultural spirit, and the spirit of the hand that makes the gift, are a way to bridge countries.”
So what do you think? Do you think Obama represented with the giving of the Ipods?