Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Making Sense of the Unexpected

By now everyone and his mother/brother/horse has opined about how Donald Trump, inarguably a petty, bombastic vulgarian, climbed to the highest perch in the land (at least from a status/power standpoint).

trump

So I will chime in, with a very able assist.  Professor Tim Calkins (Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University) has defined Trump’s ascent as an example of the concept of benefit vs values.  In short, people are attracted to and identify with values but ultimately vote for benefits.  A link to Prof. Calkins’s piece follows below.

Before that, however, a thought on how this can be applied to marketing.  Values may be good, but not necessarily sufficient to make the sale.  Strong clear benefits have a better shot.

A good example was provided by colleague Harvey Chimoff, regarding an innovative round paper towel (Ora Paper Towels) that provides dual benefits of one-hand grabbing and environmental benefit (no cardboard tube).  Scores very high on the innovation scale (although I remember round beach towels long ago that allowed rotating to catch the sun without moving your towel – – was interesting but didn’t really catch fire.)  Actually, this design ultimately proved unique but not trademarkable.

round-towel
As it relates to Ora, seems that the values are admirable but perhaps not earth-shaking enough to generate a change from the old familiar cylinders (higher cost; where do I put this stack; etc)

Regarding values vs benefits as a motivator: the Clinton campaign had sort of a feel-good, I’m with her, we’re on this bus together sort of feel but didn’t seem to have at its core a defined cause/benefit that people really were passionate about and willing to make a stand on. It was almost literally, vote for no change.

clinton-celebrities

The Trump campaign (and Sanders’s, for that matter), had at its core a group of people who were feeling disenfranchised, mad as hell, pitchforks and torches handy, skin in the game, and willing to hold their noses and vote for change. (hmm…sounds a little familiar…)

trump-supporters

In the end, seemed like a much higher level of passion, frustration and motivation (and maybe desperation) among Trump voters. And they acted on it.

And now, Professor Calkins’s adroit dissection:

http://timcalkins.com/brands-in-the-news/marketing-observations-on-the-trump-victory/

Clip and save for the next election!

Trump Bolsters His Brand with MelaniaCare

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The recent announcement on Donald Trump’s website about the development of MelaniaCare may end up being just more fodder for late night comics, but it actually is a smart move and entirely consistent with the Trump brand.

“MelaniaCare”, like ObamaCare, is a nickname – in this case for the Appearance Optimization Act (AOA), inspired by Mr. Trump’s wife.

In short, MelaniaCare proposes that all legal American residents be given access to affordable services that assist in optimizing physical appearance, including serious birth-related issues, but also a broad range of cosmetic deficiencies.   Treatments would be funded by a mandatory allocation of 10% of services of relevant professionals (such as plastic surgeons) to citizens with insufficient means to afford treatment. Mr. Trump has promised to personally fund procedures that he deems high priority.

MelaniaCare

In Mr. Trump’s words, “As much as we glorify education in this country, what is never talked about is the enormous, huge impact that appearance has on one’s ability to be hired and advance in a career. Appearance enhancement has until now been available only to the most privileged. MelaniaCare would assure that these procedures are available to all, so everyone would have an advantage. And believe me, in my campaign travels I’ve discovered that there is a huge need for these services, often for some very nice people.”

Under a Trump Presidency, if MelaniaCare is signed into law, here is what it would mean:

  • All legal female US residents over age 20 and under 60 would, within one year of enactment, be required to have a free appearance assessment, consisting of one facial photograph and two full body photographs (front and back), that would be taken at any US Post Office or passport office. Funding for these photographs would be through an extension of the ACA (ObamaCare).
  • Photographs would be assessed via computer algorithm, indexed against age ranges (20-29, 30-39, etc) as well as regional norms (West Coast, South, Midwest, New York,  Texas, etc.) as determined by regional panels of age-appropriate men. Similar to a draft number, each participating citizen would be given an ‘appeal’ rating from 1 to 10, with those ranking 1 having highest priority for immediate and mandatory enhancement services. Those ranking 7 or above are not expected to require any further treatment.
  • Level of subsidization will be calculated through a formula balancing severity of need with ability to pay, and will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Treatment will be required within one year of receipt of appeal rating, after which time appearance will be reassessed by the same panel. Patients deemed to not have sufficient improvement will be ‘fired’ (in program parlance) and will be given appropriate visas and moving expenses to relocate to other countries, or to a rural ‘containment’ area within the US, where they will support the US telemarketing infrastructure.
ContainmentArea

CONTAINMENT AREA

MelaniaCare coverage would include these treatments (among selected others):

  • Nose job, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, eye lift, and in some cases the full ‘mommy makeover’

Acceptable conditions for treatment include:

  • Crow’s feet, turkey neck, buffalo hump, FUPA, jell bell, RBF, muffin top, muffin bottom, computer face, puff daddy, wenis, love handles, parentheses, saddlebags, banana rolls, marionette lines, bunny line, elevens, smoker’s lines, and bat wings

To keep costs under control, there would be no refunds, do-overs or appeal process in the event of unintended treatment-related effects such as: 

  • Trout pout, dog ears, bat brow, ping pong face, wind tunnel face, frozen face, skew-whiff eyelid, turkey tummy, pillow face

AssessmentStation

 

Men’s appearance will be addressed after all women have been assessed, treated and relocated as appropriate.

MelaniaCare was tested for 15 months in Scottsdale AZ and Palm Beach FL, and while the level of untreated citizenry was extremely low, the mechanics of the program worked well. Per Mr. Trump: “Scottsdale and Palm Beach were enormously successful tests of the system, which gives us really unbelievable confidence when we extend it to areas of extreme need like the Midwest and Appalachia”.

Attractiveness as a determinant of success is a taboo topic, but undeniably is a real factor that is perpetuated by popular media. Mr. Trump, true to form, is unapologetically addressing this issue head-on, and claims that ultimately it will help the American people “in a really big way”.

“Pardon the expression, but a hot woman gets more attention and preferential treatment than an ordinary-looking woman. Think of the advantages the US will have if we export those who have been given a fair chance but just aren’t making it, and we improve the appearance of everyone who remains. We will tilt the playing field in our favor and will be able to negotiate some unbelievably awesome deals”.

MakeAmericaHot

Mr. Trump has already unveiled a new baseball cap promoting the program.

Wags are predictably calling this the Affordable Hotness Act (AHA), and using it as further proof that Mr. Trump represents a new low in American political life and culture.

On the other hand, Mr. Trump has done nothing but flaunt convention in this election cycle by appealing to a core base and making it work for him. An unscientific poll of Trump supporters showed strong support of MelaniaCare should it be signed into law.

MelaniaCare would certainly face challenges in the House and Senate, but regardless of the outcome, consider it another example of how to aggressively extend one’s brand.

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.

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.