I’m going to follow developments in the presidential campaign between Barrack Obama and Mitt Romney, with an eye on how emotional branding techniques are used to market these two characters for the American electorate.
The US Presidential election is entirely about marketing.
In the 2004 contest between Kerry and Bush it was Coke vs. Pepsi, or was it Pepsi vs. Coke?
In the 2008 contest between Obama and McCain it was Hope vs. Bumbling Anger.
It is an elementary rule of branding that if you don’t define your brand, the opposition will do it for you. As the incumbent, Obama has the initiative.
‘Hope’ isn’t going to sell this year. It remains to be seen what emotion(s) he will chose to project.
It began with One Chance, a short video that stresses Obama’s role as Commander-in-Chief and reminds Americans that he was responsible for the death of Osama bin Laden. ‘The Commander-in-Chief gets one chance to make the right decision.’ Here Americans are invited to unite in experiencing pleasure-in-Osama bin Laden’s-unfortunate demise.
This is the ‘courageous’ President, facing up to the nation’s enemies, battling a recalcitrant Congress.
That was a mere two weeks ago. Since then he was ‘outed’ on gay marriage, by unscripted comments by his Vice-President, and forced to take a stand on a potentially divisive issue.
Newsweek’s cover story this week is ‘The First Gay President’. See Newsweek’s Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President. Perhaps this is one of the issues Obama has taken a courageous stand on. It would have been more courageous had he had an alternative. My interest here, however, is on how it will be woven into the developing Obama brand narrative.
The halo offers a clue.
See how BAG News Notes pursues this issue in ‘Return of “The One”?: Our Take on the Newsweek Obama “Gay Messiah” Cover‘. Note the photographs.
Americans may be in for a mystical experience.
My own take on Obama’s First Coming is here: In Obama we Hope. Open Democracy, 23 October, 2009.