Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The United States of Focus Groups.

Joe Nocera, the financial writer turned op-ed columnist for "The New York Times" has a sentence in his column today which underscores much of what is wrong in our world and in our business. In an article about the Democratic and Republican conventions called "They're Not What They Used to Be," http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/04/opinion/political-conventions-are-not-what-they-used-to-be.html?hp he remarks: "I wound up thinking, do we really need three days and nights (and it would have been four if not for the hurricane threat) for the Republicans to “frame” their “narrative” and “humanize” their candidate?"

How many times, in how many meetings a day do we hear such marketing drivel? Framing a narrative? Humanizing a brand?

The Republicants (and the Dimmycrats will be no better) aren't saddled like we are in advertising, with humanizing a brand, however. They can't even humanize a person.

Mitt is still an amorphous lump of Mormonism who walks as if he's wearing an adult diaper. His running mate seems similarly unable to have a conviction or to tell the truth. It's one thing to lie about tax cuts, or vouchers for Medicare--but to lie about your marathon time is beyond the pale. No one who's ever run a marathon (and I've run 12) has ever forgotten their best time. And no one who is not a dyed in the wool cheater, liar and fraud would lie publicly about their time. No decent person would claim to run a sub-three when they in fact ran a four plus.

The Repugnants also seemed to trot out a different tagline every night. "We Built It," being just one.
"We Legitimized It" being another and "Masturbation is Murder," being a third.

It remains to be seen if the Dumbocrats will have one theme or many. And if they can frame a narrative that excuses the mediocrity of the current administration. Supposedly, this year's "hope" and "change" will be "forward," which sounds to me like a slogan maybe the Post Office can adopt if the Obamaites have any signs left over.

It is indeed a sad state of affairs when neither candidate or neither party--each of which has access to the best communication minds in the country--can come up with a compelling narrative, much less a vision of the future. I can conclude only that each candidate tested his messaging and everything performed slightly above "norms." That is, every message is so boring it neither offends or inspires, just like 99% of all advertising.

That's enough for right now. I'll just leave you with this.

Back in 1964, reactionary Republican (who would be a mainstream Republican today) Barry Goldwater had a slogan: "In your heart you know he's right."

The Lyndon Johnson campaign countered with something that at least had balls: "In your guts you know he's nuts."

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