The recent presidential elections in America highlight the influence of marketing strategies on the outcome of the campaigns (Seidman, 2008). One of the key marketing strategies used by both camps is the internet and the more modern forms of mass communication. Apparently, the Obama camp has shown a higher edge against the McCain camp in terms of political marketing through the internet and mobile phones among others.
While the Obama camp poured a great deal of effort into synthesizing the sizeable advantages of the internet and mobile campaigning, the McCain camp resorted to the more traditional forms of campaigning. For the most part, the marketing strategies used by both candidates have undoubtedly influenced the course of the campaigns for better or worse.
The World Wide Web as an advertising medium
It is a fact that the Democratic and Republican nominees both have their own websites specifically tailored in order to harness the public support both parties need. However, one point of difference which separates one from the other is the fact that the Obama camp tried to make use of all possible internet resources available at their disposal.
For instance, the members of the Obama camp did not only settle for creating a simple newsletter in order to inform the supporters about the latest whereabouts of the Democratic presidential nominee; they also created a number of profiles of Obama in various online social networking sites. Further, they also used YouTube—a very popular video uploading website where videos are available for online streaming—as a means to reach a wider audience.
Further, internet databases commenced their own polls from which they surveyed and gathered data over which candidate was rather frequently introduced on blogs and other websites, this paved a way for internet users to become increasingly excited over the fact that their candidate was leading or is more popular as compared to his rival.
Social networking sites as source for communication
For the most part, the online social networking sites gave Obama the advantage of being more known to the online world. In a country like the United States where people make use of the internet as a daily routine, it is easy to see why the Obama camp has been able to establish ‘connections’ with the voting public (Miller, 2008). Other benefits of these sites to the Obama train include the spread of Obama’s public image by word of mouth or through online invitations to these sites, thereby increasing his public relations exponentially.
On the other hand, YouTube videos of Obama help inform the public about the political stand of the Democratic nominee on various political and social issues. In a way, it is not only the general image or public impression of Obama that is being marketed through YouTube as the primary channel. Rather, it is also his policies and positions on critical issues that are being dispersed to the viewing public (Seidman, 2008). In essence, these things show the marketing strategy used by the Obama camp in order to increase the awareness of the public about who Obama is as a presidential nominee and his political perceptions.
On the other hand, the McCain’s camp can be assessed as a poor in the verity of reaching the citizens. These can be evaluated for two reasons: firstly, Obama had a head start even during the primaries when it comes to social networking strategies; and secondly, McCain supporters were unable to build the momentum of creating “technological” strategies since his image as a veteran did not make him get the ticket to be adored by the youth (Miller, 2008).
Evidently, it was the youth—from which is considerably the highest number of internet users—who made videos of Obama at the touch of their screens. Social networking sites, for one, appear to be one of the most visited databases in the recent years; which therefore explains how Obama became ultimately popular to the citizens in such a short period of time.
Voters treated like customers
In an article written by John A. Quelch, a Harvard Business School Faculty, he noted politicians should view the citizens as customers since they are after all the target market of the campaign (Quelch, 2008). Consequently, others seem to view these voters are merely taxpayers and donors, the concept of thriving to keep the satisfaction of the citizens as that related to a customer may be compromised. In a broader perspective, customer needs are easily drawn closer with better marketing—whence needs are met in accordance with current and forthcoming concerns—same logic goes to elections, voters seek a candidate who is able to pinpoint issues that concern them and somehow give them the assurance that their concerns are heard.
Obama created this image of a politician who hears his voters heed. His campaign for “change” attracted majority of the voters. He contended on issues which his camp found to be degrading to the masses and used his charisma wisely that he even garnered the trust of pledged republicans as well as indifferent voters.
The stars were falling on his place since the economy was under turmoil under the leadership of a republican and he used this to convince the voters that through him, change will be achieved—for the better, at that. McCain however focused on mudslinging, which caused him not to be able to gain the hearts of the voters but rather made them feel that his aggressiveness towards the election was making him create an image of a weak candidate. In marketing, selling a product that presents a rather compelling capability is the best way to drive consumers to shift from what they have been familiar with.
Endorsements by public figures
Companies use celebrities to endorse their product as a form of effective advertising. Given the mentality of most of the members of the society when it comes to public figures, they somehow give their trust to someone whom they see as a role model (Seidman, 2008). In the case of consumers, others prefer to use products which are widely used by actors and models—take for example a product that will make one’s skin as fair as that of a celebrity—this somehow gives them a clear vision of the results.
In the case of the presidential campaigns, Obama, being given the most endorsement by public figures—talk show hosts, philanthropists, musicians, Hollywood stars, authors and prominent politicians—paved him a way to make the voters trust him the way they trust the public icon. However, if the public icon appears to have a negative record in the eyes of the masses, it will consequently also cause the opposite. McCain for example, having been endorsed by the then incumbent president George W. Bush somehow created an image that once he is placed in office, he will do the same kind of mistakes.
Conclusions and further remarks
Politics is indeed more likely the same with business. Politicians invest time, skills and effort to a market (Pati, 1995). Even though the endpoint varies in terms of financial gain or political power, the manner of attracting voters and consumers is most likely the same. Effective marketing helps gain consumers while effective campaigns gain votes.
Innovations though in the recent times appear to be appealing to the masses. Being able to weigh which is effective from not with the probable forecasting measures and risk management strategies may place a candidate in office or may help a company boost in sales. In essence, the Obama camp pulled out a few strings for the campaign, gaining votes more than what their political marketing expected.
Miller, C. C. (2008). How Obama’s Internet Campaign Changed Politics. Retrieved January 30, 2008, 2008, from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/07/how-obamas-internet-campaign-changed-politics/?scp=3&sq=barack%20obama&st=cse
Pati, B. (1995). Beyond the Elections. Economic and Political Weekly, 30(16).
Quelch, J. A. (2008). If Marketing Experts Ran Elections [Electronic Version], from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5845.html
Seidman, S. A. (2008). Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing