The Barack Obama campaign is an unprecedented advertising and marketing machine that is now running four times as many ads as John McCain. It has also been the most diverse and smart marketing campaign we’ve ever seen in politics, or elsewhere for that matter, and no surprise that he has been named marketer of the year for 2008 by a US magazine.
He is days away from breaking the $188m advertising spending record set by President George W. Bush in his re-election campaign in 2004 and unless something truly extraordinary happens (he converts is Islam or actually befriends a “real terrorist”) he will be the next president of the United States.
The huge gap, of course, comes from Obama’s decision to opt out of the federal campaign finance system, which while it gives candidates a dollar for every dollar they raise it limits this to $84m. McCain stayed in the system and is just looking out at his cash pile looks puny in comparison to Obama’s.
“What Obama is doing is being his own good cop and bad cop,” said Evan Tracey, the chief operating officer of CMAG, who has described the ad war “a blowout” in Obama’s favour. The implication being he is playing both candidates in some markets as McCain in a marketing sense is not present.
His advertising fund has also proved vital to US networks, and other media outlets, where it has proved a massive fillip in this downturn as other avenues of revenue dry up. Whether it has been TV, radio, the internet, social networking or online gaming, the Obama campaign has been there, which is why he rightly won the Advertising Age plaudit.
He is like the Apple of politics (no surprise that Apple came second). It’s all a little bit cooler, more interesting, than your average campaign. Whether it turns out to have any more substance is another issue entirely.
Obama won the vote of hundreds of marketers, agency heads and marketing-services folks at the Association of National Advertisers’ annual conference beating, Apple, Nike, Coors and John McCain.
Poor old John McCain, I read some comment the other week when we wrote about Obama advertising in Burnout Paradise on the Xbox 360 Live that the Republican probably didn’t know what the internet was, which was maybe why he lost his battle with YouTube. That’s clearly harsh, but Obama’s campaign has embraced the online world like no other campaign. Clearly it has been a massive bonus that his presidential run has coincided with the burgeoning world of social media and that he has youth on his side.
It all helped him come from nowhere to surpass the front runners to become a household name around the world. I imagine as a case study there is a lot in there for everyone to learn from. From the tools he has created allowing people to connect with him and feel apart of brand Obama turning him into a tidal wave of a political force.
Connecting with consumers is what all brands want to achieve and this is something that the Obama campaign team has made that very easy to do, from MySpace, to Faceboo, blogging, YouTube and widgets. It has all been about community.
Ad Age quoted Jon Fine, marketing and media columnist for BusinessWeek, who sums it up “It’s the fuckin’ Web 2.0 thing,” he said.