A good friend of mine (in advertising) likes to say, “Good advertising is the best way to kill off a bad product.” If your marketing drives everyone to try a product that isn’t ready… you’re done.
From “Obama Loses His Cool” in The New York Post:
Three years on, Barack Obama — overexposed, way too talkative and kind of cranky — now exists in what the Harvard Business Review calls “product limbo.” It’s a byproduct of the content not aligning with the sales pitch…
What’s most perplexing about all of this: Barack Obama had undeniably the greatest, most successful product launch of the 21st century. Weeks before winning the presidency, he won Ad Age’s “Marketer of the Year” Award, beating such brands as Apple, Nike and Coors. It was a hard-won honor: No presidential campaign in history had been run with such airtight, top-down control, with veteran political consultant David Axelrod stressing an aesthetic and thematic unity that resulted in the consistent use of a lovely font, two pithy slogans and high-tech advances. One of the first applications designed for the iPhone was the official Obama for America app.
Well, at the time they were. Or seemed that way. Today, the Obama brand is not only confused but sullied, and the latter perception is most dangerous. As the brand goes, so goes the presidency, and vice versa.
Walter Bagehot, the great English constitutionalist, used to distinguish between the “dignified” and “efficient” parts of the Westminster system – ie, the monarchy and the executive. The United States combines them in one person. Judging from the 40-car conga line to stage a pseudo-browse at a mom’n’pop bookstore on Martha’s Vineyard, President Obama and the court eunuchs of the media seem to prefer the ceremonial side (“dignified” hardly seems the word for these leaden rituals).
But, whether in one person or two, the “dignified” and “efficient” parts of a functioning government are supposed to synchronize. Here was last week’s pre-Martha bit of ersatz presidential theatre, in the less fashionable zip codes of Minnesota:
Passing trade deals is something that “Congress can do right now,” remarked President Obama Monday at a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota.
The truth is that Congress can’t do anything on free trade agreements “right now,” because the President has yet to send the agreements to Congress for final approval.
I am assured by my liberal friends that Barack Obama is not intentionally attempting to destroy America. Let us also grant that an honorable man would not intentionally deceive the burghers of Cannon Falls for cheap political point-scoring. So what does that leave? That the President is merely ignorant, incompetent and doesn’t know his job?
That single line from a single speech is an almost perfect vignette of everything that’s wrong with the Washington leviathan. The American taxpayers pay for a luxury Canadian bus, dozens of accompanying vehicles, salaried aides and federal speechwriters in order to zip the President halfway across the country to blame somebody else for something only he can do – if only he’d stayed back at the office.
In many organizations, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. We’re way beyond that. Not only does the President’s left hand not know what the right hand is even supposed to do, but his left hand cannot even issue a cheap self-serving whine about something his right hand has failed to do without blowing gazillions of taxpayer dollars.
I don’t think the branding is off, I think it’s finally in sync: we elected someone not yet ready for the job. Michael Barone has posited a theory about a 16-year cycle in American politics in the modern era: every 16 years the country takes a flyer on some unproven candidate because the marketing theme is so good (JFK, Carter, Clinton, Obama).