Thursday, July 8, 2010

Marketing and The Political Candidate

It's election season in case you hadn't noticed. Time for all the politicians to come out of the woodwork and swarm the airwaves with messages that skirt defamation suits, give promises that could only be met if hell freezes over, and fill our weary ears with endless "I approved this message" messages. And, once again, the political machine and their marketing arms believe that we are so stupid as to believe even one eighth of what is being said.

So, the question is, what marketing genius (geniuses? genii?) ever thought that in this day and age someone would actually believe that one person could go to Washington and change the way Congress, the Senate, or government overall works? Right now, my area is being inundated with political spots touting how Candidate X will march into Congress and reduce their pay. Uh...yeah! Right! Candidate Y is saying they will march right up those Capital steps and reduce the number of members of Congress. Uh....yeah! Candidate Z will give the boot to Washington, DC. Right! I've looked very closely at these politicians -- I literally have nose prints on my TV screen from looking so close -- and not one of them, no matter how hard I squint or cross my eyes or blur my vision, looks one iota like Jimmy Stewart. I hate to tell you but Mr. Smith ain't goin' to Washington, Mr./Ms Marketing-Person-Responsible-For-These-It's-A-Wonderful-Life-Fictions.

Again, I ask the following: Who do these people think they're fooling?

Is there anyone out there who really believes this drivel? Are we not at the point where changes need to occur not only in Washington (that's a whole other rant in the making) but in the way we market the people we are sending to the District of Columbia to represent us? Do these marketers actually believe the words they are putting in the candidates' mouths? I want to know what research is being done that makes these wizards of words think there are folk out there who will fall for their messages. There's a lot of rural areas around my 'neck o' the woods', but I have yet to meet any of those fine people living there who are so dimwitted as to believe an individual man or woman can singlehandedly change the way the entire US government currently does business. I'm sure there probably are some who might believe these messages, but I don't want to know them. I really want to live in my own little hermetically sealed bubble and pretend they don't exist.

But I digress.

Each election year we, the people, state in the immortal words of Roger Daltrey and The Who: 'We Won't Get Fooled Again'. Yet each election year, some marketing firm, some hired gun, manipulates a candidate into thinking the only way to get their message across is to fool the people one more time. Market to a second grade mentality. The audience doesn't understand the issues; they don't care about the issues. All they want is change and you're just the person to do it! And the fool of a candidate believes what he is being told and spouts those retread messages out in an unconvincing manner. He or she gets on camera, tries to be an actor and look sincere and politically savvy, and reads their lines in a monotone fashion that makes the acting in Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Oscar-worthy performances.

The politician as actor? I think not. The actor as politician? Been there, done that.

Is it any wonder marketing is being looked upon as something akin to the old time snake oil salesman? In this day and age, it's all about the facts. No one blindly believes the ads they see on TV or in print. They go online and research. They talk with others across the country to find out what they thought of the product. It's about social networking and having a presence on Twitter and Facebook. Something we're led to believe the politicians are learning to do. President Obama's people became masters of social media manipulation and continue to use it. Whether it is effective any more can be argued, but it sure was effective during the campaign and all the way into the White House. The problem is, most politicians might be on Facebook and their people might Tweet, but they aren't truly utilizing the medium in a modern manner. They are stuck in the Father-Knows-Best-Black-And-White world of the '50s where innocence was still in place and the general population believed that the government was filled with moral, upstanding people who truly wanted the best for this country. They're saying what they think we want to hear. Maybe some of these politicians believe what they're saying (they did appove their messages, as we all know), but if they truly think that they'll walk into those hallowed halls of Congress and put a boot to the backsides of some of the most powerful men and women in the world, well, I feel sorry for them. If they think the majority of the voters believe they will be able to accomplish that feat single-handedly, well, they're living in a dream world. Maybe they're taking a Magic Carpet Ride fueled by '60s flashbacks.

And they're trying to take us with them....

....and Toto, too!

I recently read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and, comparing it to the fiction being put forth in these political ads and online messages, I tend to lean toward the belief that ol' Honest Abe actually did kill him some vampahrs and that John Wilkes Booth was a vampahr hisse'f. That version of Lincoln's rise to the presidency is much easier to swallow than the fictional delusions of the marketing people behind today's candidates that are being thrust at me on TV, the radio, or the internet.

No comments:

Post a Comment