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by M. LaMorte | 2008-11-07 10:01 

Just some observations about the Obama win… It was all about the advertising. (Or at least a large portion of it.)

Comparing the two campaigns, I find the following things that cannot be overlooked:

  • The Obama logo. Love it or hate it, it was everywhere. A unique, identifiable logo is essential to developing a brand.
  • The Obama website was much better aesthetically.
  • The Obama campaign had a unified theme of “hope” and “change” that was a sub-theme of its short-and-sweet tagline “yes we can”.

And it’s that last point that is interesting.

It is one of those things that I like to call a “blank tagline” or “blank message.” As in “fill in the blank.” It means something different to everyone. Compare it to Apple’s iPod Touch campaign: “The funnest iPod ever”. Well, what is “fun” to you? Playing games? Watching movies? Listening to music? Surfing the web? For each person, their definition of “fun” is different. It may be any combination of those things the iPod can do, or all of them. So the “blank” headline is effective, since when you get the iPod, you know that you can do those things that you consider “fun.” You expect the iPod Touch to deliver a good user experience, and it delivers because there are only 4 features to deliver on, and everyone buying an iPod knows what those 4 features are. So long as it plays music and movies and games and allows you to use the internet, it becomes seen as a successful product. While it’s a “blank message”, it’s one of managed expectations: No one who defines “fun” as “rock climbing” is buying the iPod Touch because they think it’s a piece of rock-climbing equipment.

By contrast, Obama’s message is one of open expectations. When people project their individual images of what “change” is onto Obama, and Obama embodies everything they “hope” for, he becomes more appealing and as a result he gets more votes. The problem is, while the iPod Touch has a list of essentially 4 features (movies, music, games, and web) that define “fun”, Obama has tied himself to an infinitely-long list of what all those people wanted to change: the war in Iraq, foreign policy, taxes, healthcare, social security, gas prices, social programs, government education funding, energy independence, “global warming”, unemployment, the economy, and on and on and on. By doing this, he creates an exceedingly high level of expectation which is now different for every person. Now, he is going to have to live up to those high expectations if he’s going to be seen as successful by the people who filled in the blank.

very tall order.


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