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Archive for the ‘Political Strategy’ Category

Why Politics is More Fun Than Corp. Marketing

In Brands, communications, marketing, Political Strategy, Politics, strategy on February 29, 2008 at 10:22 am

The thing that so entices me about politics is that politicians are hyper-aware that someone is going to lose. Several people, in fact, and quickly. They play the game knowing that for them to win they have to knock out the other guy without maiming themselves in the process.

Conventional marketers seem to be in the game to win enough market share or cool points to keep playing. They don’t appear to be thinking about what it would take to knock the other brand out of the race. Positioning themselves as the best brand and depositioning the competition as well as possible doesn’t seem to be the goal.

We’ve reached a point of collusion in the political race where Hillary and John McCain see Obama as a threat to both of them. HRC and McCain both have a better chance against each other at this point than either have against Obama so it makes sense for them to do the full court press to ensure that he doesn’t make it past this round. But should the former two frenemies both make it to the next round, what will happen when Hillary’s attacks on Obama have wound up bolstering McCain’s position?

And in relation to this ad, who goes to bed in a pants suit and eyeglasses? HRC is your answer to that one, apparently.

Hillary’s Last Stand

In Political Strategy, Politics on February 20, 2008 at 1:50 pm

Kangaroo fight

Originally uploaded by Pascal Vuylsteker

The Caucus ran an interesting piece today on Hillary’s campaign and the strategies that are taking shape for her last stand in Texas and Ohio. They mostly read like more of the same plus some fighting.

A sample:

1. Use two upcoming debates between now and March 4 to draw a strong contrast with Mr. Obama. “We’ve seen dramatic changes when that’s happened,” said Mark Penn, her chief strategist and pollster. (Translation: expect her to unload everything she has on him.)

2. Hope “new information” about Mr. Obama will emerge and discourage voters from supporting him. (Translation: see above.)

I’m an Obama supporter through and through, but regardless, I hate to see bad strategy. Hillary’s campaign manager seems to be telling her to double down, that it’s now or never and to add some harsher criticism to the mix. The rub is that if she loses even one of these states she’s also going to erode her remaining goodwill with the Democratic party and come off looking rather petty come the convention. Not to mention that the Hillary campaign has already started to go negative and if anything, Obama has seemed to come out above it all.

Looking back to the Hillary Tear in NH, mentioned in a previous post, the real momentum gained from that moment came from her really articulating why she wanted the job. That it wasn’t just politics to her and it wasn’t just about winning. The tear got all the press but it was the message that she was in it for the voters, not for her own self-interest, that stuck. If I were looking for an answer on Hillary’s long quiet plane rides, that’s where I would look. Give voters a real chance to decide who is better equipped, add in some of that emotion, and if it doesn’t go her way then take a slow step backward and preserve the Clinton brand.

Obama Understands Marketing

In advertising, Branding, Brands, communications, marketing, Political Strategy, Politics, strategy, youtube on February 3, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Obama has thus far out positioned the competition in the Democratic and Republican primary season. He stands for change. While change is perhaps not the clearest positioning when you dig into it, on the surface it resonates. It depositions Hillary, his key rival, as a Washington incumbent. All that’s missing now is “we need a change from the Bush-Clinton-Bush way of doing politics,” which would resonate with both Democrats and Republicans. And this Super Bowl spot is one of the best political ads that I have seen, not that there was much competition.

The Politics of Change

In Branding, communications, marketing, Political Strategy, strategy on January 20, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Found this video this morning courtesy of MSNBC. It raised for me an interesting strategic question: what happens to Obama’s message when everyone jumps on “change” as a political theme? Can Obama still own Change like Tide owns Clean, or does it become table stakes for political discourse?

How the Next-gen Televisions Will Compete

In CES, communications, Consumers, innovation, marketing, Political Strategy, trends on January 10, 2008 at 3:11 pm

From the New York Times:

“We already all have beautiful HD televisions. How do you differentiate?” said Bob Scaglione, senior vice president for marketing of Sharp’s American arm. “One way to provide some really unique differentiation is to provide new content.”

“That’s why we’re fighting to find the right content providers.”

The world’s biggest television makers announced a series of partnerships with media companies that will allow delivery of Internet content like videos, news feeds, weather and sports directly to the TV, without the intervention of a PC to complicate matters and confuse consumers.

Sharp unveiled deals to provide weather, stock quotes and comic strips. Samsung Electronics has a deal with USA Today to provide news, weather and stock information straight to its TVs. Panasonic showed how its TVs will pull down YouTube videos and images stored on Google’s Picasa service.

In practice the value of these services may be in their marketing rather than in use but I’m just glad that television makers are going to start having a real point of difference beyond who’s got the bigger DPI. It reminded me too much of high school.

Political Strategy: the Candidate Formerly Known as Clinton

In Political Strategy on January 2, 2008 at 9:44 am


For the last couple of months I’ve been struggling with Hillary’s campaign for President. Once upon a time she was Clinton For President, now she’s Hillary. “Hillary visited with ‘Meet the Press,’” “Hillary stopped through Le Mars, IA today,” “Hillary’s showing too much cleavage.” I always thought it was an interesting strategic choice to have Hillary run against Obama, Edwards and crew. Sure, I’d heard about Oprah making campaign appearances, but never John or Barack.

This shouldn’t come off as totally shocking, she’s been Mrs. Clinton and Hillary Rodham and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the past. As with most things Clinton, the advent of Hillary wasn’t simply by chance. But what did surprise me is that the mainstream press went along with it.

As a strategist, I think it was an interesting choice for her campaign. Those who liked Bill would transfer some of that equity to Hillary and those who claim that Clintonism brought on the Bush presidency would have a bit of distance from the C word and be allowed to make up their own opinion about Hillary before confronting the imperial idea of a Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton lineage.

I was almost getting used to hearing about Hillary’s travails in mainstream media and then this happened: I woke up to see that Clinton is back in the NYT and here at FoxNews although her own website is keeping “Hillary for President” and “Caucus for Hillary.” I think she should embrace a strategic shift to the Clinton-side. Now that we are almost out of Iowa and NH where folksy, retail politics reigns supreme it is time to shift back to the strengths (and weaknesses) of the Clinton brand for the larger states. Ultimately she will win or lose on the whole of the Hillary Clinton brand, which she can’t hide from forever.

Candidate transparency

In Political Strategy on November 15, 2007 at 10:39 am

The marketing of politics has always been of particular interest to me since it so closely mirrors business marketing. Business marketing pioneered the use of focus groups and online surveys to distill information and inform brand and product messaging but within the last 5 years or so I believe it has fallen behind.

Political parties have gained access to better and stronger means to identify voters, bucket them, understand the issues that matter to them and determine the appropriate media to reach them. The Bush and Clinton brands (and yes, they are “brands”) are as strong as any business brand in that voters feel as though they have a real idea of what they stand for. By contrast, I still don’t understand what Coke stands for even though it has been around far longer.

The other major leap ahead that political parties took was in identifying voters based on their commitment to the brand and likelihood to change intelligences. This classified voters as ‘committeds’ and ‘undecideds’ and put consultants and candidates on the offensive to sway undecideds while maintaining their committed base.

Now comes along a neat little application called that lets you weigh in on a number of issues and matches you up with the candidate whose voting records and position papers best represent your point of view. It’s the type of application that underdogs love because it makes some undecideds aware that the candidate is the user’s “real choice.” Front-runners dread it, because for all the thoughtful, target-specific messaging that gets expounded in speeches and debates, this helpful little tool isolates the issues and reveals a more definitive and truthful (?) position– one that isn’t based on name recognition, charisma or what your husband’s been up to the last 6 years.