Friday, November 07, 2008

The iPres.


I wasn’t going to talk about the election. I really wasn’t.

It’s not as if there hasn’t been plenty of punditry about what marketers can learn from this bit of history. And I think that part of my reluctance to add to the din has been the enervating familiarity of it all. The glib pronouncements about what Brand Obama got tactically right sound like the same sort of analytical chaff that followed, say, the introduction of the iPhone. Humans who wear suits insist on trying to reduce the behavior of their species to some kind of mechanical stimulus/response model, and fiercely deny the thing that most makes us human: We have souls. We are gloriously flawed, emotional creatures who exist in a perpetual zero-sum game of hope versus fear.

So here’s your answer: At the heart of Obama’s victory was not his brand, but America’s. What he did so brilliantly was not to say, “America is broken and I will fix it.” He said, “The idea of America is great, and we must return to it.” He didn’t only dazzle with clever marketing and deft tactics; he went back to the fundamentals and to the 232-year-old rhetoric of Brand America, and used it to remind the nation of its awesomeness.

H.L. Mencken, a notorious cynic about democracy, once said, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” He has never been more satisfyingly wrong, in my opinion, and regardless of one’s politics. Certainly that thumbs-up fella and his moose-hunting sidekick did. No, I think the truth is that, from 1776 until last Tuesday night at least, nobody has ever gone broke overestimating the human appetite for self-respect and a sense of possibility.

Can marketers learn something from that?

Yes we can.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your input.
I wish more brands coluld renter to the basics like Obama rather than cloak themselves as authentic.

miro said...

Hello Bruce.

There are many reasons brands succeed
and I really hate the idea of calling a person a brand - just seems so "Madison Avenue-ish"

At its core successful brands "talk the talk" AND "walk the walk" regarding fundamental principles of value, respect, integrity and long-term solution orientation that comes from nurturing a community dynamic.

While most marketers rant - it doesn't seem to make much difference when the owners of brands seem to be more concerned about the (short term) needs of their stock holders than of their value generators. At some point people will come to realize that a brand response formula - like derivatives, is not a perpetual license to print money. That a 10% response rate is a 90% non-response rate.
Sorry.... ranting again.

I think the Obama's success was his ability to reach out and give priority to his stake holders. The meltdown in the economy was the lightening rod that galvanized the message.

I look forward to the developments south of the border and wonder how the changing dynamic and discourse towards "Main Street-ism" gets picked up and mimicked by the brand owners in the corporate world.

cheers
Miro

BrandCowboy said...

Hey, Miro,

I truly, truly hope that the rhetoric of Main Street-ism doesn't get "picked up an mimicked" by marketers and made the new black. We can scarcely stand to burn any more goodwill with disingenuous pandering than we already have.

But if genuine Main Street-ism caught on? Well, that would be just fine. And not a moment too soon.