mccain’s losing marketing strategies

first posted in WAWAM! on november 1, 2008 at http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/2008/11/mccain-losing-strategy-part-1.html

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the john mccain campaign losing marketing strategies – strategy #1 : personality

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 1 of a series on the Mccain campaign.

read about the Obama Winning Marketing Strategies here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/search/label/Obama%20Winning%20Marketing%20Strategy

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

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If there is a winning strategy, there is certainly a losing strategy. In marketing though, ts not as tough and iron clad as in other things like sports. In sports, once a losing strategy, it is always a losing strategy. Applying the same will not to reault to anything else but a loss.

That is not the case in marketing. In marketing, a strategy may not bring the desired result for one brand in one category but the same strategy can succeed for another brand in a different category.

One example is pricing. People might find it strange that very low pricing may work well for shampoos but that might not necessarily work for certain brands of cars for example. Yes, that is strange but that is how it goes in marketing.
The Mccain campaign employed certain strategies that in my view were losing or within the spirit of the above, weak strategies that did not work well for them.
  1. Core strategy of ‘Personality’, pursued from the start appearing in different forms across the campaign period. The Mccain campaign was loudest on making personality as a key campaign issue be that of their opponent, Mccain himself and even in his VP choice. At some point towards the latter part of the campaign, they were so stuck on it that they missed an important opportunity that they allowed the Obama campaign to preempt them on it.
The Mccain campaign has spent perhaps too much time on making a point on personality issues on Obama, like for example his being inexperienced. This started early on but they keep bringing it up throughout the campaign when it seemed convenient to them.

They also contrasted that with a personality pitch for Mccain – his being war veteran, spending 5 years in vietnam as a prisoner of war, Mccain as a maverick.

His choice of Palin, we believe was also based on a choice based on personality – either as a balancing or counter choice to Mccain’s personality and the fact that Palin was female and even a desire to present Mccain as a maverick, a personality trait.

Most recently, the Mccain campaign hit on Joe The Plumber, again consistent with the personality core strategy. While we agree that Jot The Plumber was a success, it does build on the point we are making here. Joe The Plumber was not much of a speaker nor was a real draw but it certainly got a lot of press and attention. His contribution to driving desirability, however is uncertain.

While personality may get a lot of recal in the press, it did not seem to matter much to the consumers or the voters. The voters were faced with real life national issues like the Iraq war at the start of the primaries to the economic collapse towards the middle and last part of the campaign. Apparetnly, the American voters are very much issue oriented rather than personality oriented.

On the other hand, the Obama campaign was very much an issue oriented campaign. While the Mccain campaign was enjoying the ride they got with Palin, Obama unveiled his economic plan, something that the Mccain campaign forgot to do. The Mccain campaugn eventually unveiled their own economic plan but it was about 2 weeks late and that was the time when the US stock market was about to take it’s most devastating loss.

Contrasting this to the Obama seem to be pointing to that classic marketing question – should we go on form or on content. In this election, content seem to be the key driver.

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the john mccain campaign  losing marketing strategies –  strategy # 2 : sarah palin

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 2 of a series on the Mccain campaign, we added strategy #2,.

read about the Obama Winning Marketing Strategies here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/search/label/Obama%20Winning%20Marketing%20Strategy

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

read about sarah palin as vp choice, brilliant marketing or biggest marketing blunder here : http://the-wawam-file.blogspot.com/search/label/palin

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  1. Core strategy of ‘Personality’, pursued from the start appearing in different forms across the campaign period. The Mccain campaign was loudest on making personality as a key campaign issue be that of their opponent, Mccain himself and even in his VP choice. At some point towards the latter part of the campaign, they were so stuck on it that they missed an important opportunity that they allowed the Obama campaign to preempt them on it.
  2. Sarah Palin as VP choice is a marketing blunder. We wondered if Palin as VP is brilliant marketing or a marketing blunder. We think the choice of Palin as VP running mate was intended to be a strategic choice but turned out to be a poor tactical move. It was strategic in the sense that it was consistent with the campaign’s core strategy of “personality”, but it did not produce strategic benefits, only very tactical ones. Palin was to compliment Mccain, as a counter weight but turned out to be just a pretty decor on the wall. They wanted to exploit the void that they thought was created when Obama did not choose Clinton as his running mate. They were hoping that choosing a young female as VP will be able to capture the Clinton’s supporters who were clearly disappointed by the Obama move. The key problem with that choice is that they didn’t seem to consider that Palin may not be equal to Hillary. They are similar only in one aspect – being a female and on all other things, Palin suffers in comparison to Clinton. None of the above was delivered by Palin.

Not being able to deliver the strategic benefits of choosing Palin as VP, it instead I think distracted the Mccain campaign from the strategic imperatives it needed to deliver for a win. The choice of Palin gave the Mccain campaign a boost specially at the first few days of the announcement. It was so left field that nobody really understood the choice nor did anyone know who Palin was. This rush to know Palin more gave the Mccain campaign the boost but it eventually waned and the weakness of the choice showed it’s ugly head after the honeymoon period. That rush could have given the Mccain the wrong impression the campaign was doing well.

America so it seems is not in the mood for tactical things during this campaign. The issues of the Iraq war and the economy are just too real for tactical efforts.

Now, polls are saying that some voters are questioning the choice of Palin and has made that as a reason for voting for Obama. We know that even Colin Powell himself has mentioned that is one of the reason he is supporting Obama.

The learning here is almost a carbon copy to the lesson in marketing consumer brands — it is a marketing blunder to think that tactical moves will result to strategic benefits.

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