On January 20, the world not only saw Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) become the 44th president of the United States, but it also realized the great buy-in of a promise. In addition to the 69.4 million registered voters who voted for President Obama in the general election, millions of global citizens braved the cold on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. or watched on their televisions, computers and mobile video players the inauguration of a man who made himself into a political brand.
This idea of image selling and moving people to consume, or in this case vote, is not an entirely new concept to the world of politics. However President Obama and his campaign took it one step further by not just selling policies, but the concepts of “hope” and “change” that transcend traditional campaign promises.
In a recent Newsweek poll (January 19, 2008), 66 percent of adults surveyed say they are optimistic that President Barack Obama can improve the direction of the country, including 36 percent of Republicans. But many, on both sides of the aisle, wonder if this brand image is nothing more than an overpromise. As students of Integrated Marketing Communications we are constantly reminded of the essential task of under promising in order to more successfully over deliver.
During the transition and even in these first few days of his administration, President Obama has been very decisive in reminding Americans that the issues at hand (including two wars and an economic recession) will take time to resolve. But at least three questions come to mind: how do Americans and the rest of the world define customer satisfaction with this new president, how much time will they allow for the products they purchased to be realized and will they continue to buy into a man who has personified “hope” and “change” if he doesn’t deliver in time for the next election in 2012?
-- Lauren McCabe