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What can you do when you're branded?

vastleft's picture

Praise for Advertising Age's marketer of the year for 2008:

"I honestly look at [Obama's] campaign and I look at it as something that we can all learn from as marketers," said Angus Macaulay, VP-Rodale marketing solutions

h/t, The Distant Ocean, who notes that Chomsky observed:

They want uninformed consumers, uninformed voters to make irrational choices based on the success of illusion, slander, and effective body language or whatever else is supposed to be significant. So you undermine democracy pretty much the same way you undermine markets. Well, that’s the nature of an election when it’s run by the business world, and you’d expect it to be like that.

Chomsky also said:

This year, Obama won the prize. Beat out Apple company. The best marketing campaign of 2008. Which is correct, it is essentially what happened. Now that’s quite different from what happens in a functioning democracy like say Bolivia or Haiti, except for the fact that it was crushed.


What he had was an army that he organized of people who got out the vote for Obama. For what the press calls, Brand Obama. They essentially agree with the advertisers, it’s brand Obama. That his army was mobilized to bring him to office. They regard that as a good thing, accepting the Lippman conception of democracy, the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders are supposed to do what they’re told and then go home. The Wall Street Journal, at the opposite end of the spectrum, also had an article about the same thing at roughly the same time. Talked about the tremendous grassroots army that has been developed, which is now waiting for instructions. What should they do next to press forward Obama’s agenda? Whatever that is. But whatever it is, the army’s supposed to be out there taking instructions, and press work. Los Angeles Times had similar articles, and there are others. What they don’t seem to realize is what they’re describing, the ideal of what they’re describing, is dictatorship, not democracy.

C'mon, Noam. Don't you remember what a great man once said?

BEST-PRESIDENCY-EVAH PROPHYLACTIC: I'm not saying that Obama is a dictator or that he's "done anything yet." I'm saying that abnegating the role (h/t Avedon) of wary citizen is, essentially, volunteering for a dictatorship. Acknowledging that the Obama campaign's "movement" jargon was a mere marketing gimmick would be a healthy step away from the abyss of being uncritical followers of a charismatic leader.

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Submitted by lambert on

David Sirota:

Though many Obama supporters feel strongly about particular issues, and though polling shows the country moving left, the Obama movement undeniably revolves around the president-elect's individual stardom -- and specifically, the faith that he will make good decisions, whatever those decisions are. With that kind of following, Obama likely feels little obligation to hire staff intimately involved in non-Obama movements -- especially those who might challenge a Washington ruling class he may not want to antagonize.

This is the mythic "independence" we're supposed to crave -- a czar who doesn't owe anyone. It is the foreseeable result of the Dear Leader-ism prevalent in foreign autocracies but never paramount in America until now -- and it will have its benefits and drawbacks.

Wielding his campaign's massive e-mail list, the new president could mobilize supporters to press Congress for a new New Deal. Or, he could mobilize that army to blunt pressure on his government for a new New Deal. The point is that Obama alone gets to choose -- that for all the talk of "bottom-up" politics, his movement's structure grants him a top-down power that no previous president had.*

For better or worse, that leaves us relying more than ever on our Dear Leader's impulses. Sure, we should be thankful when Dear Leader's whims serve the people -- but also unsurprised when they don't.

What could go wrong?

Jeebus, I caught up on my post-election New Yorkers (sigh), and in Manhattan (sigh) the hagiography knobs are turned up all the way to 11.

It would really be good for the country if "we" didn't surrender all our critical thinking skills, wouldn't it? Even if Obama turns out to be everything his supporters hope for?

NOTE * Pointing this out seems to make Obama supporters very, very defensive.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

they sell whatever they want using the same methods -- remember "'From a marketing point of view,'' said Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff who is coordinating the effort, ''you don't introduce new products in August.'' ?

Sirota on who Obama's using to sell to us and how -- Ghettoization & The Difference Between Politics & Policy --

"... the policy sculptors are center-right Establishmentarians, and where the policy marketers (ie. the political team) is comprised of people who know how to package and sell policies in the language of progressivism, and sell those policies to progressive activists, a progressive-dominated Democratic congressional caucus and a center-left public at large. ...