Branding and Politics

Branding gadfly Rob Frankel has a post on the three leading Democratic presidential contenders that is both uproarious and sadly true. Hopefully he’ll do the same for the Republicans. There are plenty of lessons here for businesspeople as well as politicos.

Here’s what he had to say about Hillary, Barack, and John Edwards:

Hillary Clinton: By not stating and implementing a clear brand strategy, Hillary is doomed to forever be perceived as a mean, ambitious and somewhat condescending bitch. She can coif her hair any way she wishes, but unless she reins in that pompous arrogance that radiates from her like a lighthouse beacon on a moonless ocean night, she’s hosed.

Barack Obama: Just as William Goldman once observed in Adventures in the Screen Trade, “In the future, there will be no more movies, only deals,” Obama is not a man. He’s a package. Crafted carefully to crack the all white veneer of presidential politics, he is conveniently mixed race, which plays well to our media-driven society. Everywhere you see him, you never hear anyone talk about his policies or opinions. Instead, you hear comments like, “He’s so bright and charismatic.” The translation: “Maybe this is a black guy we can vote for.”Obama is smart. And charismatic. And trades well on his racial appearance. But then again, so is Halle Berry and you don’t see her tossing her hat into the presidential race.

John Edwards: To me, Edwards is the Christie Brinkley of presidential politics. Nice to look at, but you’d never take him seriously. Throughout the country, talking heads jabber on about how appealing he is to women. Of course he’s appealing to women. He’s a good looking guy. But on that premise, George Clooney should be running for president, not some ambulance chaser who got rich off other people’s misery.

5 thoughts on “Branding and Politics

  1. Yup – my question about the Dems: where’s the grownups? A former first lady, a bright kid just out of high school, and an ambulance-chasing retread is the best you can do? Or, perhaps you can bring back blasts from the past: ask Tuh-rey-za to give JFK some dough to run, possibly with Al of “Inconvenient Whining” fame rounding out the field.

  2. Nice jab at Al, but the facts are:

    1) He has the experience.
    2) He has the depth.
    3) He’s already won a popular vote.
    4) His views on the environment have never been more relevant.

    I say the Democrats should push for a Gore-Obama ticket, combining gravitas and promise. And this time around, make sure to trot out those hilarious photos of Rummy yukking it up with Saddam in the early 80s.

  3. To get aside the jabs, one needs an optimistic vision to win the Presidency. Americans have never voted for nags-in-chief. Where’s Al’s “A Man from Hope”, or “Morning in America”? The whole sweater thing didn’t do Carter any good, and it won’t work now.

    As for Rumsfeld, he’s not running; the likely Republican nominees have little to do with the Bush administration: McCain and Bush hate each other, and Giuliani and Romney aren’t Washington types.

    The only Dem I find interesting is Richardson of New Mexico. Obama makes nice speeches, but has little else other than newness, which will be eroded quickly. Also, Senators are hurt far more by the inevitable gaffes than executive politicians, since pretty much all anyone knows about Senators is what they say in speeches.

    If Al can come up with anything other than being a self-righteous scold on bigthink eco-disasters, he may have a shot. Otherwise, he’s a one-trick pony that can win votes in Davos, but not anywhere else.

  4. You never know, but to me Al Gore seems like a man who has finally realized that he doesn’t want to be president.

    Here’s a guy whose dad was a legend, and who was programmed from birth for the White House.

    In 1992, he may have had his best shot, but he (along with every other major contender) chose to sit out the election, thinking George Bush unbeatable.

    In 2000, he finally got his shot, but went down in history as a terrible campaigner who somehow lost to a guy who admitted to being an alcoholic and cocaine user.

    Al is a smart, talented guy, and he has done a lot for the environmental movement. I’d look for him to avoid a savage primary battle with Hillary, and focus instead on being statesmanlike and enjoying his life.

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