Posts tagged “Politics

Assessing Brand Obama: The “Dog Year” Presidency

Recently I was asked to provide thought and commentary on President Obama’s first one hundred days in office.  The discussion takes place in Boston at an advisory board meeting this Friday.

I thought I’d use the Juice Bar as a handy note pad to jot down thoughts and float some trial balloons.

Let’s start with the unusual.  Typically people do that last.  You know … tell a joke, set the stage, identify the commonalities, cite historical precedent, and then wind it all up with a handful of pithy observations and quotable quotes that are supposed to get people to say “hmm … never looked at it that way …”  (Or if you’re the cynical sort (like me) the close often seems to be trying to get people to say “damn … that’s one smart guy!” … but I digress)

So for this first foray, let’s discard all the presentation foreplay and do what my friend Bink Garrison suggests and “start backwards.”

Let’s start with questions …  questions that have been nagging me ever since I was given this assignment … and questions that suggest a conclusion or two about what is making the Obama presidency different.

Today’s questions is …

Where did the time go?

As I said, the topic suggested for this panel is “Obama’s First One Hundred Days.”  Notice something odd about that?

Yup.  You’re right!  President Obama is not close to being in office one hundred days.  I haven’t had the time to figure out when his “One Hundred Day” mark will be — but my guess is that it is sometime around Easter (BTW, Happy Mardi Gras!).

So why start talking now — in the dead of winter — about something that is not going to take place until Easter?  Is this advisory board of mine a bit goofy?  Not really.  Seems there are a lot of other people interested in discussing this topic well in advance of its actual occurrence.

Google “Obama’s First One Hundred Days” and you get nearly 71 million results (all in .23 seconds!).   For a guy that has been in office just a little over a month, President Obama already seems to many as comfortable as an old pair of jeans … so much so that folks are already writing the obituary of his first 100 days right after his first news conference.

Maybe it was the Democratic primary that wouldn’t die.

Maybe it is the effect of watching the nation’s economy and your personal wealth slowly but inexorably melt away.

Maybe it is the ubiquitous and inescapable media that takes any event and expands, extends, and makes a five second event last for five days.

But the Obama presidency already seems like dog years — every day in real time seems like seven days to us normal humans.

Redefining Consumption

In the aftermath of the trauma of 9-11, President Bush gave us this advice:

Go shop.”

In so doing our President told us to go out and feed our nation’s greatest addiction and increasingly what many consider to be one of our last remaining economic assets:  consumption.

The ability to consume.  That is our heritage.  Damn the economy.  To heck with the environment, education, and the sinking stock market.

Our ability to — no, our NEED to consume seems to know no bounds.

Note that this is not the consumption that our forefathers celebrated the first Thanksgiving.  Back then they called consumption a disease.  Among other things, consumption was more likely known as a “progressive wasting of the body” … not picking up something at the country store.

Based on what I read in this morning’s papers, we should go back to the old meaning of “consumption” — that of a deadly disease.

It is bad enough that two people pulled out their guns and died in a shoot-out at Toys R Us after their respective female companions got engaged in a bloody brawl.

But that a crowd of shoppers would actually trample to death the poor WalMart employee who has the unfortunate job of opening the door in the morning?

This, my friends, is sick.  Shopping meets greed meets madness meets total lack of disregard for any one meets violence.

Welcome to the new Kris Kringle.

Here’s my advice.  Don’t shop.  Take a day off.  Go check out the folks at “Buy Nothing Day.”  Or at least shop online.  Apparently a lot of people of are.

I am thankful for a lot of things.

Not shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving is one of many.

Happy Holidaze.

Explaining a Brand’s Success: An Obama Case Study

Note, before reading the following you should know that I worked and voted for Barak Obama for president.  With that as an important caveat, here’s my brand lesson from the Obama victory.

JFK, the president to whom the current president-elect is most often compared, once said:

Victory has a thousand fathers, defeat is an orphan.”

In this case, the President was talking about a defeat (The Bay of Pigs).

But let’s consider Kennedy’s quote in the context of Senator Barak Obama’s historic presidential victory over Senator McCain last November 4th.

Today there are many “fathers” being offered up explain Obama’s victory.

Most attribute the “father” of the Obama victory to history.  Specifically, the timing of the market meltdown and economic crisis.  Others say the “father” of the Obama victory was, in fact, a woman — namely, the McCain’s pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as a running mate.  Still others say the “father” of the Obama victory was technology.  In this case they were talking about the incredible online money and organizing machine that the Obama campaign was able to build.

All would-be “fathers” list their reasons and point to alleged “causal” relationships between one action or development and Obama’s surge in the polls in the last 30 days.

But could the “father” of the Obama victory be simply this — of the two, he was simply found to be the better brand?

He won every debate … and by wide margins.  Could it be that people simply looked at both brands and said to themselves,

“Hmmm, I’ll take that one.”

Could the brand lesson from the Obama campaign be … start (and end) with a good product?