The Presidential Branding
Naseem Javed | July 26,2010 02:48 pm IST
The boy wonder of the USA minority blacks, Senator Obama, is being referred to as being a "just do it" brand, and Lady Clinton of the good old White House days of the sleek Clinton era as a "yes we can" brand. You surely would know what these two slogans being created by the big advertising machines stand for.
American people have become fully-entrenched in the ad-lingo, bombarded with daily ads, where some of these lines have become catch phrases, while very often, no one recalls their true commercial origin, like "where’s the beef?" With the election frenzy on the way, another wicked way is to pigeon-hole candidates like products on a shelf. It’s only natural for the world’s most consumer-friendly and overly-branded society to attribute this to their politicians.
They said if George Bush were a Ford pick-up, John Kerry would be a Lincoln town-car. Was this the reason that Kerry, a heroic lad from snob-hills, lost the election, as America needed something more like a Ford truck; built "like a rock", over the Limo-like Lincoln sedan? The average American loves this kind of classification, and makes complex political choices as simple as choosing between a brand of ketch-up and mustard. Yup!
The sound bite culture is so deeply embedded in America, that half the nation is either dozing away, or is heavily subdued with constant "breaking news" crammed with repetitive short sound bites, that hardly leaves them any time to deal with long, complicated sentences, addressing complex issues with logical bifurcation, comparing and deliberating opposing views and reaching conclusive comments. What did you just say?
What would happen if the folksy branding machine were to label the entire Senate and Congress on this slogan or product association basis? Would it create a national debate along the likes of American Idol, the Price is Right, or Deal or No Deal? Or maybe, simply a new Trump version of "You’re all Fired"?.
The conversations today, across USA, from the main streets to Wall Street, from trailer parks to Central Park, usually revolve around what to say when asked about the election, having to explain the issues by simply commenting on who looked the best and who reminded them of what, and who’s "so nice" and who’s not nice at all. Like mumblings after an unfinished drive-in movie during a summer night on a long weekend, the chat goes on, while the two-year marathon of the US primaries seem to have not only exhausted the candidates themselves, but the public. Does this explain why US voters show up in the smallest portions of any of the Western countries?
To convey the message of personality, the labeling range is amazing. Isn’t Obama like a Superman, says one, or Robocop or Tarzan or R2D2? Sometimes, cool like Paul Newman, mumbling like Marlon Brando, feisty like Anthony Quinn or biblical like Charlton Heston.
This way, people can really relate to the personality and message. Now I understand. The overly brand-mentality society further speaks. How about Dirty Harry? Dancing with Wolves? Darth Vader? Even Mr. Bean? Finally, on what will Obama say to Hilary? "Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn", or "Go ahead, make my day", or "I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse".