obama’s winning marketing strategies

first posted october 27, 2008 at WAWAM!  http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/2008/10/president-barack-obama-winning.html

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president barack obama : the winning marketing strategies – strategy # 1 : change

last october 15, 2008, we posted in WAWAM! our prediction that barack obama will win the US presidential election on the strength of a brilliant marketing effort and a marketing blunder of the mccain campaign.

(read in full here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/2008/10/barack-obama-wins-us-presidential.html)

we also said that the point of no return will most likely occur right after the 3rd debate. our analysis of the 3rd debate was that mccain was unable to rock our world. mccain’s task was to not only to do well in that debate but to do so well that he needs to reverse the trend to his favor. while he did well than the first 2 debates, mccain unfortunately did not do well enough to reverse the trend that was not in his favor.

we also posted on WAWAM! a few factors that has the power to reverse the trend of an obama win. since that time, none of the factors listed occurred, thus we concluded, also posted in WAWAM! that obama is on track to win in this election.

(read in full all posts on barack obama here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/search/label/barack%20obama)

just about 8 days before the election, we are posting here what we think were the core marketing strategies that both campaigns employed that resulted to obama winning the presidency and mccain losing it.

WAWAM! will be looking at exactly the same things that a political analyst or strategist will be looking at in analyzing the campaigns. but WAWAM! will look it at from the eyes of a marketing and advertising man. these strategies and analysis can be written into marketing plans of brands and it will make sense and most likely work.

we will be posting this in a series.

  1. Consistent, consumer-meaningful message from start to finish : Change. the obama campaign is on the “time to change” theme from the very beginning, on day 1, as early as the democratic primaries. the core message was, enough of the 8 years of the bush-led republican years of managing the country be that the iraq war across other issues, specially on the US economy. consistency in message across time allows the audience to focus and the candidate to build consensus. marketing tells us a brand needs to stand for something and the obama campaign has done a most admirable job at standing for “change”. it is not only consistency that is important ans where the obama campaign has succeeded, it is also in relevance or in WAWAM! marketing term – “consumer-meaningful”. being consumer-meaningful and consistency are both required to be there to succeed, they are like twins where having only one in the end will not amount to anything. while both are critical, finding the right message that is consumer-meaningful is a much more difficult task. it is here where most campaigns and brands fail at. you can be consistent but if you do not have the right message, the effort will not amount to anything. consistently delivering the weak message is very much like garbage in-garbage out, repeated many times over.

at the start of the primaries, bush ratings were on all time lows and on a continuous decline. the key issue at the time was the iraq war and most specifically on the solutions that america was supposed to apply to it. more and more americans were increasingly withdrawing their support on the iraq war and they felt the end game solutions were unclear at best to wrong at worst.

then as of late the failing US economy has been the key focus. and that while largely unpredicted by the obama campaign (no one else was able to predict it), it fell quite nicely, very snugly into the “change” theme and core strategy.

we can argue that the obama campaign was very lucky that the US economy failed towards the last months of the presidential campaign and towards the very last part when nothing can be done to reverse the trend given the short period of time.

with american voters disappointed with bush on the iraq war at the beginning of the primaries the US economy failing became a double whammy to mccain. add to that the fact that obama stands to be the first black president in the history of the US, the meaning of “change” takes on a very different, almost cosmic meaning. when obama wins, it will be a real “change” in the US in very many ways, in very many aspects of american life and most specially the american psyche.

president barack obama : the winning marketing strategies – strategy no. 2 : High-Ground

2. High-ground brand character that was strongly defended, upheld and consistently applied across all aspects of the campaign, again from the very start, during the primaries to the end till the presidential contest. The most telling application of this high-ground brand character is the stubborn refusal to do negative campaigning. Not only did the campaign refuse to do negative campaigning, it called out the Mccain campaign each time their opponent did negative campaigns.

This brand character also fits Obama very well as a person. It reflects his demeanor and views on politics. You get the impression it comes from within and not just a political message. The eloquent speeches also fits within that brand character.

Not only does having such a brand character help drive up desirability, it also removes potential negatives. It would have been tougher for him as an africanamerican to adapt a brand character other than that. A tough and aggressive brand character would have fed right into the stereotypes. Being the exact opposite of the stereotypes made sure race cannot be used in any form.

The good guy image and the relentless pursuit of the high-ground brand character was so powerful that it could have changed american politics forever. The accepted principle is that negative campaigning, though seen by many as ugly and not right, do work in american politics. Poll results during this election point otherwise. Mccain’s ratings were hurt because of the negative campaigning they launched when things got too tough for them.

But that does not mean the Obama campaign only does positive campaign materials. They do not do negative campaigning but they are competitive and aggressive. Another key difference is that the Obama campaign has not done that kind of campaigning on a national level but limited to pockets of states where it was needed. This is unlike the Mccain campaign where we hear Mccain and Palin launch negative speeches on the national stage.

For brands that run for elective post, brand character is very important. Having a bad one spells disaster, having a good one at minimum removes a potential negative. But for Obama, it has dome much more than removing potential negatives, it has built his desirability.

read Strategy No. 1 here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/search/label/Obama%20Winning%20Marketing%20Strategy

read US presidential election posts here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/search/label/US%20presidential%20elections

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president barack obama winning marketing strategies – strategy # 3 : down-home presence

WAWAM! will be looking at exactly the same things that a political analyst or strategist will be looking at in analyzing the campaigns. but WAWAM! will look it at from the eyes of a marketing and advertising man. these strategies and analysis can be written into marketing plans of brands and it will make sense and most likely work.

this is part 3 of a series and we have added point number 3 here. read parts 1 & 2 here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/search/label/Obama%20Winning%20Marketing%20Strategy

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  1. Consistent, consumer-meaningful message from start to finish : Change. the obama campaign is on the “time to change” theme from the very beginning, on day 1, as early as the democratic primaries. the core message was, enough of the 8 years of the bush-led republican years of managing the country be that the iraq war across other issues, specially on the US economy. consistency in message across time allows the audience to focus and the candidate to build consensus. marketing tells us a brand needs to stand for something and the obama campaign has done a most admirable job at standing for “change”. it is not only consistency that is important ans where the obama campaign has succeeded, it is also in relevance or in WAWAM! marketing term – “consumer-meaningful”. being consumer-meaningful and consistency are both required to be there to succeed, they are like twins where having only one in the end will not amount to anything. while both are critical, finding the right message that is consumer-meaningful is a much more difficult task. it is here where most campaigns and brands fail at. you can be consistent but if you do not have the right message, the effort will not amount to anything. consistently delivering the weak message is very much like garbage in-garbage out, repeated many times over.
  2. High-ground brand character that was strongly defended, upheld and consistently applied across all aspects of the campaign, again from the very start, during the primaries to the end till the presidential contest. The most telling application of this high-ground brand character is the stubborn refusal to do negative campaigning. Not only did the campaign refuse to do negative campaigning, it called out the Mccain campaign each time their opponent did negative campaigns.
  3. Down-home presence – the Obama campaign probably has the most extensive organization and system at getting to very specific voters right in their homes. This also requires very sharp and specific targeting of the voters. If this was a consumer brand, we will call this superior down-scale distribution where the brand is made available and sold in the smallest types of retail outlets, retail stores right beside the homes of consumers. It’s a grass-roots organization where many face-to-face interaction occurred and this was done not only once, but in many states, specially the battleground states, it occurred a few times during the election campaign period. Face-to-face selling, specially by a neighbor or a friend is much more compelling and and excellent follow up to the dominant media campaign the Obama campaign ran. For consumer brands, poor or weak distribution usually spells failure.

The Obama’s down-home organization is to die for. Their organization was a magnet for large scale number of volunteers, many of them involved in such a campaign for the first time. And these army of volunteers reached not only the Democratic faithful but first time voters, young voters and previously uninvolved voters. The Obama campaign knew it was a strength that they have asked voters to vote early and it worked. Data from many states show that a much higher percentage of democrats voter early versus republicans, in many places 2 is to 1 in ratio.

Of course this kind of strategy is something you can do when you have a lot of funds to execute it. And the Obama campaign has no problems at all with funds. This campaign will most likely come down as one of the richest in US presidential election history.

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