Day: February 24, 2008

Brand Obama, and backstory…(you’ll want to read)…

So, we’ve been talking about advertising and how to go about branding a President.  This doesn’t mean a brand, as in branding cattle or livestock…but it is about searing the public’s mind with a name.  For name recognition.

That’s what marketers mean.  This works in much the same fashion as any advertising.  If you look at TV, you are going to see ads.  How do you find your trusted brands?  For instance, when you clean your house what products do you choose?

How did you learn to trust somebody like “Mr. Clean” for instance?  Advertising.  How did you even know who Mr. Clean was?  Or what Clorox is?  Name recognition is key to understanding the brand.  To understand the Obama campaign you can look to what a marketer has said about it over here:

http://www.giantsky.com/2008-02-14/opinion-obama-is-the-top-brand-for-2008/

Obama will be the first Presidential candidate sold as a brand to the American Public.  Not that other candidates past haven’t used all the forms of advertising available to them, it’s just that he has made use of internet technology to get more name recognition.  Look at almost any website and you’ll see that name pop up, associated with his bubble logo.

Is it ethical to vote for somebody who has dominated web market share?  That is the question.  Is it ethical to “buy” the web, or should all the candidates be given and equal shot at having space there?

It’s like anything else you buy, isn’t it?  You hear the name enough times and maybe you start wanting it.  But just like many drugs being target marketed to the American public on TV, are these things going to be good for you in the long haul?  There is a really interesting article here that is a must read for the American public.  From the Chicago Tribune called “Carefully crafting the Obama Brand”

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-obama_senate_recordjun12,1,3193322.story?page=1

It’s important for the American public to understand the “roots” of a thing like building a brand, and how Obama has been working on his for a long time.  What better newspaper to read than one out of Chicago?  We aren’t seeing this kind of coverage on the West Coast.  And we aren’t seeing much backstory either.

One of Obama’s key strategies is that he is so post-racial, he will be able to address everybody’s needs.  But a peruse of this over at Politico.com tells us a very different story about his wife’s feelings about race, doesn’t it?

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0208/8642.html

This quote is from her senior thesis from Princeton circa 1985:

“My experiences at Princeton have made me far more aware of my ‘blackness’ than ever before,” the future Mrs. Obama wrote in her thesis introduction. “I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don’t belong. Regardless of the circumstances underwhich I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second.”

But wait?  I thought this campaign was so “post-racial…”

No. It isn’t.  Just like Michelle Obama opines above, I know damn well that I can’t go to Watts.  These are the realities that this campaign of his is stirring within the Democratic Party.  That is what is so sad, because since the era of Martin Luther King all affirmative action has been to end a politics of racism here.  Has it worked?  Michelle Obama has consistently referred to people as “folks” — as in “life hasn’t gotten any better for folks…” and so forth.

I don’t as a Democrat identify with her concept of “folks.”  It doesn’t work for me.  I identify with the Democratic party’s values overall.  Obama is undermining the party as a whole by segregating and target marketing to specific parts of it.  You can see how he does that on his website.  He tries to cast himself as a unifier, but this thesis his wife wrote probably has more truisms in it than many want to believe.  I feel nothing but militancy from Michelle Obama.  It’s like she is incredibly calculated.

Also, I can’t understand why Barack Obama has been so cruel to Hillary Clinton, while she has shown the epitome of graciousness towards him.  This is a quote from today’s Los Angeles Times on page A-19.  Apparently he has used advertising mailers against her that are “perpetuating falsehoods.”

He seems to use advertising to get around a lot of things, doesn’t he?  It’s really “stinky.”

This is what he said, ” So I’m puzzled by the sudden change in tone.  Unless these were just brought to her attention, it makes me think that there’s something tactical about her getting so exercised this morning.”

Exercised?  What kind of a comment is that?  The other states can’t see what his mailers are, nor are we watching his TV ads.  I’m thinking that we are being really kept in the dark by the Obama campaign.  How easy to just sell oneself as a wholesome post racial love-filled brand and then, in secret, be something else entirely.  But that’s how the advertising game goes, doesn’t it?  You never exactly know what you are getting until you sample the brand.

Unfortunately, the Democratic Party doesn’t have time for such a taste test, and we don’t have time for a candidate whose own wife is still mired in race politics.  Make that her own politics.  She isn’t thinking of the United States as a gestalt.

This is a really good piece from Pajamas Media by Victor Davis Hanson:

http://pajamasmedia.com/xpress/victordavishanson/2008/02/22/the_way_ahead.php

It’s very well written and addresses the undercurrent of racism in this campaign.

“Two, is the message. Early last year, Obama started out as the post-racial candidate, a sort of liberal version of Condoleezza Rice or Colin Powell. His handlers even worried whether he would solidify his African-American base (“not black enough?”) given Hillary’s liberal credentials, apparently sure-thing candidacy, and Bill’s honorific title as the first “black” President.

But sometime by December, the Obama candidacy had transmogrified, as his wife and Oprah, in style and substance, vouched for his African-American fides—and suddenly 90% of the black vote was unexpectedly won in many primaries. If his worry in the cauldron of Chicago politics was that he was too “white”, suddenly those fears were assuaged in the current election.

Second, at about the same time the hope and change message began to morph as well into a prophetic, near messianic sermon along the self-righteous lines of something like, “You, America, have a final chance to show that you are still good, after all, by voting for a brilliant African-American charismatic leader. If you don’t, then you are captive to race, and we were right all along about your America.”

Now, think about that brand, and advertising, and how you create something out of thin air.  Or shall we say spin it?

The other candidates clearly need better ad agencies to combat Obama’s planned market web share.  Don’t they?

My sense is that they didn’t think they were going to have to be so prepared.  Who thought that the battle for presidency would have to be bought or fought in the web?  Maybe this year, it does.  As far as I am concerned it’s unethical if all the candidates can’t have an equal share of that WEB pie.