Tag Archives: Marco Rubio

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.

Top 10 2013 Mostly Accidental Marketing Lessons

This is the time of year where instead of being productive, people put together lists.
So here’s my look back at 10 events in 2013 that provided (purposely or not) great learning.

2013  Lesson 1:  Measure Twice, Cut Once.  Make that: Measure three times.
Healthcare.gov rollout
(honorable mention for Chicagoans:  Ventra public transit card rollout).
– So many lessons here.  It’s the lesson that keeps on giving.  Reminder: even if your brand isn’t one-sixth of the national economy you probably still want to test a new e-commerce site.  Test, test and then test again.

jon_stewart_obamacare

2013 Lesson 2: A brand CAN do a 180 in a Single Day 
Miley Cyrus
– And in this case it took about 5 minutes.  The recipe: take one tweens’ idol named Hannah Montana.  Remove most clothes, liberally add makeup, a big foam finger and nationally televised awards show; mix aggressively using the body and add a large dash of idiot grin.  Voila!  You’ve now transformed from Hannah Montana into what looks like the love child of Gene Simmons and Dita Von Teese, without the charm.
The winner:  probably Miley and her handlers, but hard to know yet.  The clear losers: Millions of formerly innocent Hannah fans.  Also, the general cultural level in the US.
So yes, it is possible to completely change your brand’s image in a day.  But it might involve twerking.

Hannah to Miley

2013 Lesson 3: There is such a thing as too much transparency
Lululemon
– Due to quality control snafus, Lululemon’s yoga pants delivered a little more than was supposed to meet the eye.  The media, always a model of sober restraint when it comes to high-minded topics like see-through clothing, did its best to spin this story as salaciously as possible.  Ultimately it went viral, resulting in loss of gobs of market value, as well as Lulu’s top management. At least they kept their sense of humor about it. (actually, there is a real lesson here: at the end of the day it’s about the product – and you can never take your eye off the ball).

Lululemon Store Window

2013 Lesson 4:  The early bird still catches the worm – – if he tweets about it.
Oreo cookies
– We now live in an era that enables, and requires, real-time marketing.  As has been reviewed ad nauseam (guilty!), Oreo slam-dunked it with a timely tweet during the Super Bowl blackout.  Meanwhile, given the opportunity of Marco Rubio’s magic cotton-mouth TV moment, the Poland Spring ad team not only didn’t stick the dive, they missed the pool entirely.

oreo-super-bowl-tweetMarco Rubio drink

2013 Lesson 5:  When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  When your meatball supplier tries to slip you some horsemeat, clean house IMMEDIATELY.
IKEA
– When IKEA learned that some of its famous meatballs (150 million annually!) might contain traces of horsemeat, it immediately got rid of all meatballs in inventory, whether suspect or not.  Cost of write-off?  Probably pretty high.  Benefit to reputation by immediately taking action?  Priceless.  Sales of meatballs since then?  UP.

IKEA meatballs

2013 Lesson 6:  Hint: ‘Fail Fast’ is really just a euphemism for Test and Learn.  It doesn’t mean your goal is actually to fail fast.
JC Penney
– Here is a retailer that tried to do a 180 without twerking.  Or more importantly, without considering that its customers preferred periodic discounts.  Boom.
Easier to adapt to customer preferences than to try to force them to adapt to you.

jcpenneymadnessJCP quarterly

2013 Lesson 7:  There is No Such Thing as Bad PR (at least for Jeff Bezos)
Amazon
– Amazon’s eerie delivery drones cleverly debuted on ’60 Minutes’ the day before Cyber Monday.  Never mind that if you give it about 5 seconds’ thought, the barriers are significant (snow? wind? power lines? privacy issues? teen boys with slingshots?) – what it really shows is that in addition to any product you can think of, Amazon’s mission apparently also includes delivering PR to all homes.

Amazon drone

2013 Lesson 8:  If you go for the ‘wink-wink, joke’s on me’ approach, and people don’t get it, then ‘wink-wink, the joke’s on you’.
Honda/Michael Bolton Holiday campaign
– If you didn’t see them, these spots feature the man of the strained tenor and shorn mullet singing soulful holiday-esque tunes from atop a Honda, next to a Honda, in a Honda showroom, behind a piano, behind a guitar, all to the indecipherable reactions of surprised, baffled, younger presumed car shoppers.  It’s difficult to tell what the point is.  The obvious assumption is that this is a quid pro quo: the 60-year old Bolton (perfect for a younger target!) has a new album that needs promoting (true) and Honda needs some breakthrough quality in the holiday car ad environment that generally features obnoxiously gift-wrapped luxury cars (true again).
But what’s Bolton doing up there on that car?  Apparently, according to Adweek, this campaign is ‘poking fun at itself with melodramatic guitar solos and idiotic lyrical gems like “This special time of year, it’s filled with joy and cheer, for me and you and you and you, too’.”  Well, I know something about misplaced melodrama and idiot lyrics and I didn’t catch it.  If there’s a wink in there somewhere, it’s subtle enough as to be invisible.
So we’re left with a spot with bland cars, being promoted by bland music – – a perfect match, but I suspect probably not what they were going for.
The American public as a rule doesn’t respond well to ‘subtle.’   Witness, if you will, Ron Burgundy for Dodge – – a more effective celebrity hookup.

Bolton on car

2013 Lesson 9:  When in Rome, do as the Romans do.  When trying to break into Southern California, and your name contains the word ‘Fresh’, don’t pre-wrap the fruits and vegetables.
Tesco Fresh & Easy
– This one already has a coda. Big UK retailer Tesco created its Fresh & Easy chain in late 2007 to penetrate the Western US market with a fresh new smaller format store, famously after significant consumer research.  The experiment failed when consumers didn’t respond well to new formats, new food presentation, and in some cases, truly foreign concepts.  Ultimately F&E was sold to Yucaipa, which has added “competitive pricing, improved hours, fresher foods and assisted checkout” according to management.  Everything, it appears, has been changed except the name.
– The obvious lesson – – listen to your customers (see Lesson 6).

fresh and easy vegetables

2013 Lesson 10:  You can say Social Media and B2B Marketing in the same sentence
Maersk Shipping
– Maybe it’s the exotic locations where its ships are shown.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that deep down we’re all little kids and are awed by really cool big boats.  Whatever the appeal, big freight shipper Maersk found a way to go from zero to one million+ in Facebook likes in about a year (good Forbes article here).  Of course, no one places container orders on a Facebook page, but for very little cost (repurposing archival company photos) this enhances the Maersk brand, distances it a bit from its competitors, and likely provides meaningful recruiting and morale benefits.

Maersk Facebook

Probably the big lesson for 2013 has been that while many old conventions are being challenged (e.g. static campaigns, role of social media), the key marketing fundamentals are still alive and well:  understanding your customers and their needs is the surest way to success (or at least avoiding being in next year’s write-up).

Happy New Year.

Marco Rubio and the New Watergate: Missed Opportunity

These days it’s simply not good enough to have a token effort at social media – if you’re in, you need to be all-in.  A recent column by Kate McMahon on MorningNewsBeat (below) summarizes it nicely, using the recent case of Marco Rubio and comparing Poland Spring’s inaction to Kraft’s opportunistic action for Oreos during the Super Bowl (instantly creating and Tweeting a catchy message during the blackout).

MarcoRubioWater

Oreos Super Bowl

The new imperative is not just to manage your followers in real time, but to take advantage of the ability to jump on opportunities real-time, as they present themselves.  So there’s a defensive reason (manage potential crises proactively) and an offensive reason (take quick advantage of spontaneous good luck by leveraging through social media).

The full text and link to Kate’s commentary is below.  By they way, MNB is a great quick digest of a variety of consumer and retail issues, every day.

http://www.morningnewsbeat.com/Home/Home_S.las?Date=2013-02-20&Source=Newsletter&A=41188&C=#A41188

——————-

Kate’s Take: Drip, Drip, Drip

by Kate McMahon

Welcome to Watergate 2013.

We are referring, of course, to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s awkward lurch for a bottle of Poland Spring water and subsequent slurp during his Republican rebuttal to the president’s State of the Union address last week.

Within minutes the Twitter universe lit up with #watergate tweets, and social media watchers anxiously waited for Poland Spring to capitalize on its prime-time product placement moment.

And waited.

And waited.

Even Rubio himself good-naturedly tweeted a photo of an empty Poland Spring bottle right after the speech and has since parlayed his guzzle into a $125,000 boost to his campaign PAC coffers through the sale of Rubio water bottles (certainly abetted by a “Saturday Night Live” spoof).

But as the hours ticked by, and the gulp was replayed on newscasts, parodied on YouTube and the talk of Twitter, Poland Spring remained radio silent.

When contacted the next morning a spokesperson said: “I haven’t seen what’s going on on Twitter.”

Not an acceptable response, particularly for the top-selling spring water brand in America, owned by the multi-billion dollar international conglomerate Nestle.

And finally at 1:20 p.m. Poland Spring weighed in with a Facebook post showing a tiny Poland Spring bottle looking at its reflection in a mirror with the caption: “Reflecting on our cameo. What a night.”

Witty, yes, but way too late. The headlines that followed shouted “squandered,” “missed opportunity” and “fumbled.” The Huffington Postcompared the 14-hour lag to “roughly 14 years in social media time.”

Turns out Poland Spring stopped posting on its two Twitter accounts as of July 2010 and January 2011, respectively. Really?

The lead-footed response had the bad luck to follow a timely moment of social media marketing by Oreo during the Super Bowl blackout. Oreo was already in the game with a commercial, but tweeted “Power Out? No Problem” and a picture of an Oreo with the caption “You can always dunk in the dark.”

(Tide also sent out a tweet saying “We can’t get your blackout. But we can get your stains out” and Walgreen’s chimed in with “We do carry candles” but it was Oreo that got all the attention.)

In fact, the Oreo tweet was retweeted 10,000 times in one hour and lauded as the advertising winner of the night.

And it illustrates the phenomenon that major nationally televised events are essentially “two screen experiences” – what people are watching and what they are tweeting simultaneously.

Since Oreo had a commercial airing during the Super Bowl, cookie execs and its ad agency team had gathered in a “mission control center” to watch the game and monitor social media channels.

With all the key players on hand, they were able to design – and get approval for – a witty graphic within minutes.

Granted, Oreo had a multi-million dollar investment in the Super Bowl telecast and Poland Spring had no way of knowing its product would capture the nation’s attention, thanks to a parched freshman Republican from Florida.

But the two cases illustrate that real-time interaction with consumers on social media is dictating the discussion. If you aren’t prepared to join in, you will find yourself left high and dry. 

Comments? Send me an email at kate@morningnewsbeat.com .