Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Politics and Marketing - What are they doing to the Barack Obama brand?

I didn't really plan on writing about politics when I started this blog -- politics is one of those topics that you usually try to avoid when you're living in the day-to-day world of business. But when you're in marketing, there's a lot of interesting things to study in politics -- how people sell and sell out, commitment and compromise, nature versus nurture, branding and bluster. Besides, I've been a bit of a political junkie since college and my legislative internship at the state capital.

I was going to avoid all of that, but recent political events have gotten me fired up about politics -- not just the issues, but about a couple of topics that relate right back to what I've been writing about here. So, let's get to the point -- what are they doing to Barack Obama's brand?

Within the past couple of weeks, there have been a couple of notices about Obama and his positions. Since securing the nomination, there has been a lot of talk of him moving "toward the center". Also, after coming out against the FISA update earlier this year, Obama has taken a position of supporting this legistation now. There's more this week too, but rather than detail all of these things, I'd like to dive into some analysis.

After starting three different attempts to frame this topic, I've decided to break it up into at least three threads. So far, here's where I'm thinking that we'll be going:
  1. What's up with Barack Obama's Brand? How does the essense of the brand that he's been selling us match up with his current offering? Why do organizations with successful products ignore the things that have made them successful in an attempt to reach audiences that don't really connect with their core offering. Why is it "expected and necessary" for politicians to move from "a distinct position that espouses strong, specific values" towards a "least bad candidate" position in order to win a general election?
  2. Why is it that, with so many detailed metrics and proven results, people repeatedly underestimate the size and the impact of the Internet audience? Why is it that so many people want to believe the meme that "the Netroots" is a small, fringe community of radical voices from the left? Why do some people so drastically underestimate the passion of the niche?
  3. Why is it that, as brands grow big, they also increase their disregard for their customer's interests? Why do so many big brands hate their customers?
Anyway, the main purpose of these posts is not to support a specific political position, but to look through the lens of this political machine, get under the hood and understand whether it's firing on all eight or coughing and sputtering like it's running on a tankful of overpriced, 4-dollar-a-gallon cheap gas.

No comments: