29.2.08

U.S Presidential Elections and the New Media

The following news release by Chad Currie speaks about the apparent role of the New Media in the U.S Presidential elections.

"The Race for the New-Media Nomination

As they grapple for votes, Clinton and Obama are also locked in a battle of the brands"

Feb 28, 2008

"We are watching the first presidential election of the new-media age. Call it election 2.0, if you like. The Obama campaign's ability to delay -- and possibly derail -- Clinton's coronation isn't just a political headline; it's a marketing story. Regardless of their political leanings, advertising pros must take notice of new media's influence on the outcome of this race.

In 2006, blogging and online donations were the game changers. In 2008, we add YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Digg and the like. Obama's team has benefited more from new-media tactics than Clinton's team. Naturally, we will wonder if the Obama campaign's fortune should be attributed to a superior new-media strategy. The answer is more complex than most marketers would like. By all means, study the Obama tactics. They are spot-on. But here is a question that would be more meaningful for our business: How is the Obama brand better suited to the new-media world?

Comparing tactics will tell us little. Site for site and link for link, Clinton, Obama and even McCain all use seemingly identical digital strategies: Facebook and MySpace pages, proprietary social networks and more video than any voter has time to watch. But a casual scrape of public data shows him outpacing her in online donations, social network supporters and videos that have truly gone viral. This is all happening while Obama's machine spends less per week. The difference is not in the tactics; it is in the brand. Clinton is sold as a consumer product. Obama is packaged as a relationship brand. Clinton is offering features and benefits. Obama is inviting membership. Clinton's campaign language is transactional, focusing on closing the deal. Obama's campaign is open ended, inviting commitment in tiers.

At this point, no one can know that one brand works better than the other. Until the primaries are over -- or voters in Texas and Ohio decide the nomination -- all we can see for ourselves is that the Obama brand instigates more digital chatter.

The value of that chatter is hard to measure. Yet so many marketers seem to want what Obama has -- a new-media halo that generates attention and energy for the brand. Debates in marketing departments right now are driven by concern that brands are under-represented in social networks and user-generated content forums. That sort of brand envy is natural because digital chatter is a good index of a brand's relevance and health. But new-media prosperity is not a practice…"

Read the full story here.