A Presidential Lesson in Brand Development

As President Barack Obama passed the mid-way point this month toward his first 100 days in office, moving swiftly to address a multitude of campaign promises, I realized that his address to the American people, his first pr

April 6, 2018

3 Min Read

As President Barack Obama passed the mid-way point this month toward his first 100 days in office, moving swiftly to address a multitude of campaign promises, I realized that his address to the American people, his first press conference, his attendance at a professional basketball game among other appearances, were all a clear reminder that he has become one of the most compelling brand and marketing stories in history. i1_539.jpg

And while President Obama probably sold more merchandise during the election and inauguration than any other president-elect, the most fascinating story about his campaign and election is the behind-the-scenes marketing strategies and initiatives that were brilliant in the business of politics and are certainly applicable to the business of brand licensing and retailing.

The architect of the president's election strategy, David Plouffe, last month signed an estimated million-dollar book deal with The Viking Press, Penguin Group (USA), to tell the story of the Obama campaign. According to Viking, the book, tentatively titled, The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory, "will share the story of the Obama for President campaign, written by the man who led it from day one through its triumphant victory."

In fact, President Obama called Plouffe "the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the ... best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America."

Viking stated the book also will detail the business lessons to be learned from the formation and the functioning of an unprecedented $1 billion start-up, the use of technology, crisis management and grassroots and personnel management.

And it's these key factors and success of Plouffe's vision that I believe will be driving the future of companies worldwide—especially as it pertains to leadership, new media, people, changing demographics, marketing as well as brand development.

Perhaps most applicable to brand licensing and retail executives was Plouffe's use of online communities, social networking, text messaging and the like during the presidential campaign. Plouffe aired several videos on You Tube that educated younger viewers and supporters about the campaign and President Obama. His casual style, slide shows and explanations of what was happening in the campaign were well executed. And they obviously had a tremendous viewership and impact.

"The lesson that can be drawn from the Obama campaign's beginnings is not to see things as they are right now: Kind of imagine what they might be," Plouffe told students last month at DePauw University.

The opportunity here for brand licensing and retail executives is to embrace and utilize new ideas and new technology to communicate to new audiences. And obviously while some virtual communities and other online promotions are being developed, retailers and licensing execs have only scratched the surface.

Plouffe's book, The Audacity to Win, due out this fall, will be a best seller and could very well define the attitude of change, hope and success for the next decade.

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