Tag Archives: Bernie Sanders

The Donald and Hillary’s Long Tails

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It’s come to this – the surviving front-runners are two candidates who arguably don’t represent the very best that America has to offer, each with roughly equal numbers of fervid backers and haters.

Hillary has a ton of baggage and a calculatedly vanilla platform, but has successfully pushed back a true Hope and Change candidate who generated real excitement among a specific segment (whether Bernie’s plans are made of fiscal tissue is another story).

More remarkably, The Donald has so far outlasted a number of impressive candidates, including career politicians, outsiders, tough-talkers and business leaders. And he has done this while dragging the level of discourse to grade school level, and with no actual detailed plans.

DonaldHillary

Original drawings:  Daryl Cagle, Sean Delones

How have Hillary and The Donald managed these feats? The answer (once again) sheds light on the power of brands (and more depressingly on the nature of the voting public).

The answer is their tails. They have extremely long tails that have been growing for decades.  By tail I refer to the lasting impact of their brand that follows them around.  Their competitors simply do not have such tails.

Hillary has been on the scene since Bill was sworn in as President in January 1993.

  • That’s 23 years in the national spotlight, increasing with her stints as Senator and SOS (not to mention the occasional scandal).
  • The nature of her image is rather consistent as well – – ambitious, smart, determined, not especially a people person. Has anything changed?

The Donald has been on the scene even longer – – back to the 1970s.
According to Wikipedia, “Trump initially came to public attention in 1973 when he was accused by the Justice Department of violations of the Fair Housing Act in the operation of 39 buildings.”

  • In fact, as early as the 1980s he had already established his brand – – wealthy, brash, a winner.
  • ‘Lethal Weapon 2’ (1989) described a huge trove of cash as “Millions – billions…the Donald Trump Lotto”. (watch Danny Glover emote in this short video outtake).
    The Apprentice did nothing to disrupt this image and was seen by many millions.


That’s decades of brand-building for both, with huge exposure and very consistent brand messages.

None of their competitors even comes close.

  • Bernie Sanders has had a consistent socialist brand for decades – 4-term mayor of Burlington VT, a member of the House from 1990, and a Senator from 2005.   Impressive, but he did not gain national notoriety until this Presidential race.
  • Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were born in 1970 and 1971, respectively, so when The Donald was cutting his first deal they were literally in short pants, and when Hillary became First Lady they were just out of college.   Cruz established a brand as a Tea Party obstructionist, not always a positive image.   Rubio is just now establishing his brand.
  • John Kasich has a long and distinguished political career, but his brand is weaker in breadth and focused message than the front-runners.
  • As for Christie, Fiorina, Carson, Paul, Huckabee, etc – each has significant and admirable success but none has the awareness and consistent image of the leaders.

My point (and I do have one) is that brands count. Brands that have consistently conveyed an image over a long time can provide an amazing perceptual short-cut, so that people think they understand who this product, or candidate is.

When it comes time to choose a candidate, much of the electorate doesn’t have the attention span to investigate positions – – they pick the strongest available brands, which for many naturally leads directly to either The Donald or Hillary.

For many observers of this race, from a policy standpoint Donald Trump is dangerous – – ‘The Devil We Don’t Know’.   Who knows what a President Trump might do?
For much of the voting public, however, he’s ‘The Donald We’ve Always Known’. They don’t need to check his actual plans. They’ve known him for years. “He’s not just a winner – he’s our winner.”

Donald_Time

Hillary – yes, she has those issues of trust, honesty and all that, but hey, she’s been part of the landscape for a long time, in important positions – and while there’s no strong record of success, she projects success and experience.  She can do it!

Hillary_we can do it

The simple lesson for brand marketers: keep your brand message strong and consistently support it.

The lesson for the rest of us: New Zealand is looking better and better as a place to live.

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Inside Candidate URL Guerrilla Warfare!

Recently Donald Trump’s campaign acquired the domain for jebbush.com* and directed it to donaldjtrump.com.

This raises the question, what sort of campaign is Jeb! running when his staff hasn’t even registered his own name?

Classic domain warfare dictates scooping up all likely (as well as expected negative) URLs so you can control the message.

As it turns out, Jeb! is not the only one who has missed this rather basic tactic.  (the screen shots below can be clicked through to the actual sites).  In fact, depending on whether the middle initial ‘J’ is involved, The Donald missed a few himself.

—> http://www.tedcruz.com was taken over by a group promoting immigration reform, forcing Ted’s people to base operations on tedcruz.org (wouldn’t have been his first choice).

—> http://www.carlyfiorina.org was hijacked by someone with an axe to grind.  (spoiler alert: the last screen tells us it was 30,000 people – – all of whom had families)

…and Donald himself was caught flat-footed when he allowed http://www.trumpsucks.com to be directed to none other than Fox News’s Megyn Kelly!  Megyn punks Donald!

By the measure of controlling the URL landscape, overall, aside from the Megyn Kelly thing, Trump does pretty well.  He grabbed Jeb’s site (probably paid a squatter for it), and got ahead of a few ‘Ihate***.com’ sites, including some of his competitors. (see chart below)

Ted Cruz and Jeb! fare worst.  They don’t have their name.com URL and both need a less obvious URL for their base of operations.  Jeb particularly has been rumored as a presidential candidate for at least 30 years.  You would think he would have been savvy enough to get ahead of the game and grab his own name domain.

John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and Hillary Clinton have decided to invest in only one URL.  The others are somewhere in between.

Is URL control a huge deal?  Probably not – – someone who gets redirected is likely not going to be automatically swayed just by landing on an unexpected site.

But still, there’s something to be said for controlling access to your message.  Maybe it’s time for each of us to look at www.(your name)sucks.com and see what comes up!

URLMatrix

*in WordPress, jebbush auto-corrects to nebbish.  hmmm.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are Bags of Chips

…and the other candidates are furniture.

There is a marketing lesson here; allow me to explain.

Everyone and their mothers and the horses they all rode up on have already weighed in on what’s driving the surprising dominance of Trump and Sanders in the polls to date.

Donald ChipsBernie Chips

The Armchair MBA looks at this as a lesson for marketers:

There is a clear difference between an impulse purchase and a considered purchase, demanding different approaches.  Depends on whether your goal is short-term or long-term (or maybe both).

  • Impulse purchases (like chips):
    – immediate consumption, no long-term commitment, low-risk, who cares
  • Considered purchases (like furniture):
    – longer-term implications, significant commitment, meaningful risk

As chips and as candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders present the most powerful, clearly articulated and differentiated propositions that are intriguing to a segment of the population.

With virtually no risk in trying a chip (or answering a poll), the chips (and candidates) that stand out as different are more likely to get early trial and short-term success.
Other chips (candidates) have less extreme claims, are consequently less differentiated, and thus any one is less likely to gain a majority of trial (poll votes).

Candidate Chips

After trial (polling), however, things could change.

Trump chips, while very spicy, might present an unexpected burning sensation after ingestion.
And Sanders chips, while appealing conceptually, might not be particularly palatable or affordable.

In both cases, these chips will still likely retain loyal users, but would likely represent a smaller niche
– as candidates, the same might also be true

Chips that may be designed for more long-term market success will necessarily be positioned to garner a broader share of the population and have staying power. While less overtly exciting, they may have a more balanced combination of ingredients and claims.

As election time nears, candidates become viewed less like chips and more like furniture: a longer-term commitment that demands (at least hopefully for most people) more thoughtful consideration, doing research, shopping, weighing benefits vs. cost and risks.

NET: For short-term impact (trial), claims must be clear and differentiated.

For longer-term success, both claims and performance must be carefully crafted to meet the needs of a meaningful portion of the population.

Barbie-Glam-Dining-Room-Furniture-Set

Hopefully our voting public exhibits at least the same care in choosing their candidates as they do in picking furniture.