Thoughts on the Obama Brand


It’s been obvious for some  time that Obama is a brand. I didn’t realize how comprehensive and integrated his brand was until I began to do some research. Seems that experts in the marketing and design field are so impressed they’ve been scratching their heads in awe at how meticulously controlled his messages were during the campaign. Folks in marketing and design need to read this Newsweek article if you haven’t already seen it. Though it’s from Feb. 2008, it’s still fresh and contains insight into Obama as a manager.

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One of the funniest moments of the campaign, to me, was the Republicans caving in to their envy of Obama’s popularity and producing the “celebrity” commercial.  Maybe hard core conservatives and folks over 50 took the message as intended, but the millions of voters under 30 simply nodded in agreement:  “Yes!  You’re right!    He’s a celebrity.”

Republicans did not understand (and possibly still don’t)  this celebrity-driven culture.  Being a celebrity is a good thing, a chunk of status, that young people strive for, from YouTube to The Biggest Loser.  The celebrity commercial fueled Obama’s popularity.  The Republicans paid big money to boost the Obama brand.

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I don’t know how creative Obama is.  He’s certainly a master organizer.  But some members of his organization are geniuses at packaging and marketing.  The recent photo of the president-elect in his swimming trunks was no accident.  It was  perfectly timed to bring some lightness to the holiday season.  The media gleefully picked it up and plastered it everywhere except the rocks in my back yard.The photo reminds me of  the shot of President Reagan chopping wood on his ranch.  It’s down home, human.

Add one more to the Obama brand.

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Obama himself creates an air of humility, referring to himself as a mutt, during his first press conference as president-elect.  It was a masterful stroke, but almost out of context if you listen to it a few times.  Seems to me he’d been waiting to use the analogy at the right moment.  But no matter, the press conference was the right moment. And Obama, who measures everything he says, turned this into another “Lincoln Moment.”

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Michelle is becoming a brand in her own right.  For those who follow fashion, she’s already become the trendsetter.  Right now, attention is on “the ball gown challenge.”

(It’s also telling — for people who watch these things — that Laura Bush’s gown was an Oscar de le Renta.  Michelle favors Maria Pinto.  There couldn’t be a bigger contrast in old and new schools).

It’s also obvious that this educated, intelligent, strong person is going to make a lot of substantial contributions during this administration, but she’s going to have to meet with her fashion advisors before stepping out the door each time.

Obama’s team understands the media and the Web so well it’s almost scary.  Where the Bush adminstration controlled from behind the green curtain, the Obama’s folks will control and direct through transparency, as they’ve shown throughout the campaign and the presidential team selection process.

But in treacherous world of politics, transparency is not always what it seems.

I’m going into these next four years very hopeful but mildly cautious.  These folks really understand marketing, and their various target audiences.  That can be a double-edged sword.

It will be an interesting learning process to watch how the Obama brand is  further developed and managed.

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3 responses to “Thoughts on the Obama Brand

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  2. Thanks for the great information. Wish you great 2009.

  3. Pingback: Brand Obama, Politician or Private Brand? « My private brand’s Blog

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