What's Eating Jdavies?

and other marketing stories

Obama's Impact on Marketing

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Some thoughts on the Obama strategy - from a campaign to a presidency and how it contributes to marketing and brand management:

On marketing basics ---

As a case study ---

  • Excellent example of effective online, viral strategies and PR Management
  • Power play. He now controls a huge database of voters - key power item for years to comeand grassroots reach that can be used to pressure Congress and influence public opinion
  • 13 Million 'influencers' or started seed for a viral campaign
  • Positioning yourself for success - setting expectations properly,
    pwned the Clintons without alienating them
  • Effective fund-raising --- who says marketing is only an expense center???

On Management ---

  • Exercise in leadership, seizing the moment, and timely action
    (re: clinton and mccain attacks)
  • Good case for people management and a handling power struggles (re: party politics)

Any books written yet about this? Publishers will capitalize on these for sure!

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posted by Jdavies @ 1/26/2009, ,

Obama's team vs Clinton's

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Any election campaign is a mighty beast of a marketing challenge. From mere branding of the main banner campaign, or simply branding of the candidates, to detailed segmentation, profiling of state demographics and ultimately budgeting media buys and strategies vis-a-vis the projections, the whole campaign is a marketing exercise.

This is what got me very interested in the 2008 democractic primary battles between Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama. It's a battle of wits. A battle of product qualities: on one hand one who is a "fighter" and another, a candidate of "change". These one-word associations that came to define their campaigns are not accidents - they are predetermined modes of character that aim to highlight the product. What's interesting is, as with any battle between competing brands, one will end up a clearer winner in the end.

Somehow, Obama's largely Internet-based and new media campaigns have outpaced Clinton's. Could it be the young demographic that supports him which fueled the quick spread of his videos and speeches? Or is it merely a tactic that was not as exploited by the Clinton campaign?
As it turns out, it's not just strategy but the message, something is new about the campaign, in the way it was managed like a community event, ground-up but on a nationwide scale. Is this success a question of the message (the product as it is 'essentially' placed, that is, "change") or is the success of the Obama campaign really due to the management behind the campaign. It's easy to attribute it to both, but which one has a bigger effect? Is it the money - Obama having more in his war chest? I remember from the book Freakonomics, however, that it isn't decidedly sure that once you have more money - you correlate that to winning an election (that's only half the story).

Nedra Pickler, has an interesting article about the Obama team out-organizing their Clinton counterparts. There it's laid out how the Obama campaign has sustained the campaign (aka managed the funds) while Clinton had to lend her team her own money. The article outlines the people behind the Obama campaign and talks about their key strengths.

We've all come across the claim that a good product will sell itself. Or that one product if good enough will not require a lot of marketing but will largely advertise its own by sheer referral volume or popularity.

Well guess what, I don't buy that. Not all online sensations for instance got big by sheer luck. You think there are no marketing teams behind such viral campaigns? There are companies that capitalize on the initial surges of such phenomena to sustain them and plan how to most efficiently schedule the exposures.

And so I end with Obama's team. Much a great character he is whose message a lot will buy, you got to give it to his staff for making it happen. Certainly, he would have mark his leadership on key points in the campaign, the famous address on the issue of Rev. Jeremiah for instance, wherein he wrote his own speech. But ultimately, without the staff capitalizing on the grassroots movement and the enthusiasm of the supporters, and planning effectively, America would not have known that such a product call "change" was even available.

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posted by Jdavies @ 5/25/2008, ,

Why the Philippines is getting Poorer?

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About a month ago, I received an email asking "Why the Philippines is getting Poorer?"
The email highlights the perks, the budget & the expenditures released by the Commission on Audit as the key measure of the apparent failures political system in the Philippines.

Here is where my expertise comes in. I don't think the politics in the Philippines is failing. Like managing any brand, you do not kill it and stop selling immediately after it registers a downtrend. You look at statistics that tell you why the situation is getting worse.

The system as it is, the political institution, is not problematic. It is however suffering from structural deficiencies that managers are supposed to have.

From the brand management & marketing perspective - here are the problems I see with the political system in the Philippiens:

  • No strict financial control measures to determine success rate and return on investment per congressman (We need an indexable measure or rating!)
  • No accountability because there is no efficient public monitoring system to track
    their expenditures --- if any of our congressmen who mismanage funds work in a private company they'll get sacked precisely for that
  • No parity or cohesiveness between budget allotment and overall target or priority of the country (I don't want to touch on the amount, since surely there are administrative costs considerations) We should all be directionally correct at least in what we want to achieve as a country. As it seems to me, we do not share a common direction yet.

    Unity in direction is foremost. And you have to create organizational & social structures & programs that take everyone in the same mindset. We can disagree with everything in politics, but at least we should be targeting the same path which should be a quantifiable target.

  • In fact collorary to above is whether the Philippines actually has a coherent marketing & business plan --- branding should be top down --- the President's vision should trickle to all priorities of all sectors (swarm or hive concept)
  • Perks are fine - marketing people receive perks but for perks to work without damaging the financial integrity of the system, BUT they should come from outside of the financial system
  • That is, infusion moneys, lobbying or special interests are financially acceptable since they do not cripple the internal budget. --- By not coming from within the system they do not put pressure on the budget. ---- Please note that I do not support permissive corruption or lobbying with direct cash contribution - you don't take from main cookie jar - you take cookies outside the jar.
  • Lobbying through active private sector sponsorship of Government programs instead of direct cash contributions should be encouraged. That way, the savings on programs is realized by not spending on planned programs. In marketing speak, this is Ex-Deal. Barter. Zero expense, or co-branding.
  • Last point - who watches the watchers? Meritocracy will not happen unless the system is observable thru pre-set and quantifiable performance. Whether these measures are set is beyond me. (Maybe? If they are set, then maybe it's just an image problem. I for one know many of our government managers in career positions have these measures, specially those in GOCCs)

    In layman's terms, this means there should be an independent body able to track performance. The Commission on Audit (?) But what punishment do we give for bad performance? We need actual measures that are beyond words.

    Numbers don't lie & data will need to be respected - that should be the mantra. Unfortunately, most Filipinos are not familiar with the concept of measurement of performance metrics. It will take a generation to institue familiarity with the discipline of asking for actual accomplishments in numerical terms.

    Until the country is prepared to see through the veil of promises and realistically elect officials on the basis of measurable accomplishments and not campaign rhetoric, we will just be dreaming for a vague Philippines, and we won't even know we got there even if we did.

  • Main Point: We don't need politicians.
    What we need are managers.
Hire me! jdavies for the '10 elections!

(Img via PCIJ)

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posted by Jdavies @ 4/14/2008, ,


The Author

J.Davies

Jdavies lives in Quezon City, Philippines and has been blogging since 2002. A brand manager in a leading technology company and a freelance new media/web strategy consultant, he has refocused his blogging from personal, political & sociological observations, to marketing-related efforts and Internet trends that are relevant to his career and branding advocacies.


About This Blog

This blog is a depot of thoughts and observations on marketing trends which remain personally relevant to the Author as far as his marketing career is concerned. Having evolved from the personal blog of Jdavies, much of the earlier work contained herein are laced with personal speculation, political views, and similar advocacies. These posts are being kept for posterity's sake and for no other reason. No effort is being made to claim that the author will not contradict himself from his previous positions or that such advocacies are absolute.

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