Posted by: Dave Wilson | November 3, 2008

The Obama Brand: 21st Century Campaigning 101

In case you haven’t paid that much attention… the Obama campaign is likely the most marketing-driven political brand in history. The advertising gurus behind the “Obama” product have definitely earned their dollar on this one… and it’s left the Republicans looking rather 20th-Century-old-fashioned and out of touch with the brand-driven culture of America. Everything from his “O” logo (and all its targeted variations)… to his website… to his text messages… all lay the groundwork for 21st Century campaigning.

Unfortunately, that is too bad on two fronts.

  • One… we are looking at style over substance.
  • And two… we, as the American culture, are so easily swayed.

Take this new ad that came in an email over the weekend.

Give the campaign credit for fund-raising ideas… the copy on the ad reads…

Make a Donation to Receive Your Shirt — You Could Get a Front Row Seat to History

You could be with Barack when the results come in on Election Night.

Some of the best seats are reserved for 5 people who give for the first time before midnight on Sunday, November 2nd.

You and a guest will be flown to Chicago, put up in a hotel, and brought backstage for the biggest night of the campaign.

Make a donation of any amount and you and a guest could join Barack on Election Night.

Donate $30 or more, and you’ll also receive a limited edition Change the World T-shirt.

We will ship your T-shirt as soon as possible, but unfortunately it will not arrive before Election Day.

Here’s where the brand’s “rubber meets the road.” This is a classic marketing ploy that you can see on any late-night infomercial… “Order in the next 20 minutes and we’ll send you a second one for free.” They’ve taken the groundbreaking fundraising tactics of Howard Dean and put them on steroids. They’ve even gone so far in Florida that you can pick up free tickets to a Jimmy Buffett election night concert if you stop by an Obama volunteer stand near your polling place after you vote (vote buying beware)! The thing is… these marketing ploys are working. People are donating. And what do you bet the Buffett concert is sold out?

But it’s not necessarily the outright marketing ploys that are so scary in this election. It’s the subtleties that are ever-so-slightly swaying the way we see the Obama brand.

The first line from a recent text message I received from his campaign reads

“Rally w/Barack this Monday! University of North Carolina, Charlotte…”

The brand gurus want you to identify one-on-one with Barry. They want you to see him as your friend… like one of the guys… as if you’d received a text message from one of your friends that read, “Lunch w/ Andy Monday @ 12?”

Just take a look at the very subtle nuances of the banner from the “Front Row to History” ad…

The pass reads “Your Pass”.

Obama is standing at an open curtain… a stage before him… with thousands of cheering fans going wild… the spotlight on his face.

His not-visible hand placed in just the right way to seemingly cover his heart and appear so humbled by the approval of the crowd.

Folks… having worked in marketing and advertising, let me point out one key thing… the campaign staged Obama to get this shot… to give you the feeling that you are right there with him… backstage at the “greatest moment of his life”… and it could all yours for just $30.

They are making a brand out of this man with the slogans of “Hope” and “Change” as the mantra that so many have bought in to. As I said, credit goes to the marketing gurus, because they have definitely run a 21st Century campaign and have sold their brand to the American public. With all the punditry out there, hopefully a majority of Americans (especially in the key swing states) will be able to see through the marketing ploys and gimmicks to the truth.



  1. I’m not fooled by the Obama campaign — I’m terrified by it. And the media and actors and actresses have used their influence to make it worse. And comedians have said things “in jest” that people take out of context. It’s horrible and I think it should be against the law to use award shows that are for entertainment to give FREE political ads — if you want to get on TV and support your favorite candidate you should have to buy that time — not steal it.

  2. From Wiki:
    “Propaganda is generally an appeal to emotion, contrasted to an appeal to intellect. Propaganda shares techniques with advertising and public relations.”
    No surprise then, that this sort of appeal is used by the most Left-wing candidate for president I’ve seen in my lifetime.

  3. This election was about style and hype and Bush hatred. I think we know more (thanks to the media) about Joe the Plumber than Obama.

    Now generally, I don’t really like Howard Stern, but this video clips nails it. They find people supporting Obama and ask them if they agreee with his policies, only they quote McCain policies even to the point of asking if Obama made a good choice in picking Sarah Palin.

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