Dear CMO: I won’t go political. Not here, not anywhere. We keep our political rants well away from our marketing discussions just like we keep our peas from touching our carrots. Usually. Sometimes, succotash happens. But someone has to give a great big “Wow, did you see that?” to the 1984 spoof ad that an unknown perpetrator has launched on YouTube for Barack Obama.
Have you seen it? A Citizen Marketer has launched a scud at the Clinton campaign putting her in the place of “Big Brother.” This is another in a series of third-party actions …. whether video or verbal …. for which the benefiting candidate doesn’t have to answer. Expect this to increase dramatically. Surrogates can keep up the barrage for as long as they produce breakthrough creative. Uninspired work …. and I’m sure YouTube is full of it …. won’t hit the surface for good reason.
The marketing lesson I’m left with here is that powerful and well-aimed metaphors always hit harder than beautiful creative. The spoof ad itself isn’t terribly unique; it’s a bit run-of-the-mill, given the fairly simple change of image from the original ad.
But the impact it has caused has been anything but. If the face in the video was that of Bill Gates, George Bush, Barry Bonds, or Simon Cowell, this wouldn’t have resonated. In this case, though, it did. Much like the Geffen quote of weeks past, it struck a nerve. This may simply be a case of someone shouting, ‘The Empress Has No Clothes,” giving voice to the unspoken beliefs of everyone present.
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> Surrogates can say what is politically impossible for a brand (or candidate) to say; and often, this will carry far more weight than a paid for, branded message. In our newly emerging age of user generated content, this is something we’re all going to get to know very well. After all, they say an election is coming up.
> Snappy creative is a distant second to a powerfully delivered metaphor. You can smack your audience in the face with a CGI-fueled diatribe to little affect, but lightly touch a nerve and the reaction is immediate and visceral.
> Your end users are very smart. They probably don’t need much help in articulating the metaphors, talking points, or relative weaknesses of your opponents. However, it never hurts to make sure they know what your metaphors, talking points and relative strengths are, does it? And even coming across as a positive, authentic, and likeable brand probably increases the chances of gaining a bit of their advocacy, don’t you think?
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As far as being a powerful political message, I don’t think this qualifies. It isn’t portraying much of a positive image of anyone; it’s a negative attack on the opponent. I know this is shocking given the nature of political advertising. I think the irony is that it won’t help Obama’s image, but will certainly hurt Clinton’s. It may simply open the door to a third candidate. Or brand. Maybe something in green?