CAN THE MARKETING MAKE THE MAN? Obama’s Presidential Campaign: A Flawless Media Campaign of the Old and the New

Posted by Steve Kleber on Jan 28, 2009

Any marketer knows that the creation and implementation of an effective media campaign is a marathon of both the mind and matter . . . a demonstration of endurance, persistence and creative strategy that can give you a leg up on your competition. This is especially true in the cutthroat world of politics.

 

This month we witnessed a historic event—the inauguration of Barack Obama as America’s first African-American president.  As a dedicated member of the marketing community, I thought it only fitting to reflect on Obama’s landmark marketing campaign. A campaign that has received almost as much hype as the man it was touting.

 

Never before has new media so significantly impacted the outcome of a presidential election. The last time we came remotely close was when color television became mainstream in the 60s.

 

Social media has helped to change the world of marketing (and seemingly the world of politics) overnight. At my marketing and communications firm we remain convinced that new media deployed in concert with traditional marketing wisdom has truly created a ‘new marketing reality.’

 

In Obama’s case, it’s obvious that his team had the same discovery. They sought out intimate relationships with American voters. This was evident with Obama’s personal message to his loyal facebook friends before taking front and center stage minutes later to deliver his branded experience acceptance speech to the near hysterical crowds at Chicago’s Grant Park. Simultaneously, anyone with a computer, radio, phone or TV couldn’t help but be inundated with his mantras of “change we can believe in” and “yes we can.” He gave consumers control and they provided the horsepower, armed with messaging points, logos and even font usage guidelines. Obama Girl and Will.i.am were only too happy to oblige.

 

The campaign camp proved that their presidential candidate was plugged-in to the times. And not to be outdone, they spoke to America’s swelling generations in particular language and upon distinct turf. Xbox advertising, social networking and aggressively buying up keywords targeting Internet users in search of ongoing campaign news, Obama’s marketing team utilized the latest technological advances and voter outreach methods to maintain a dialogue with Americans and rally them where they live and learn. He raised millions, while building a database some three million strong. With that said, Obama’s camp also spared no expense when it came to more ‘traditional’ marketing tactics like Super Bowl and World Series ad buys and infomercials.

 

While his opponents went through taglines like Washington goes through bailouts, Obama latched onto “change” early in the campaign and never wavered. And as far as celebrity endorsements go, it never hurts to have Oprah on your side.

 

Overall, Obama’s presidential marketing campaign will be one of the most talked about and possibly the most transforming campaign of this century. Not only was it an evolution for political leaders into the unexplored territories of social media, but it was also an impressive marrying of the two schools of marketing—the old and the new.

 

So back to my original question. Can the marketing make the man?

 

Yes it can.

This entry was posted by Steve Kleber on Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 at 3:05 pm and is filed under Advertising, Brand Management, Home Building & Design, Housing Market, Marketing, Public Relations, Trade Shows. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.