1 Thing, 2 Candidates

Monday, November 5, 2012

By Adam Kleinberg

In the mind of the consumer, every brand gets to be One Thing.

When Bill Clinton ran for president, James Carville famously hung a banner in campaign HQ saying "It's the economy, stupid." No matter what question was asked from the press, the Clinton team knew their job was to turn the conversation back to the One Thing that really mattered to their "customers": the economy.

Obama 1

Many brands try to be everything.

"We have different audiences!" they cry. Too bad. You still only get to be one thing.

Four years ago Barack Obama's one thing was hope . That simple idea galvanized the electorate around him and, of course, he won.

This time around Brand Obama has also focused on one thing. That thing is forward. Let's continue what we started.

Obama 2

The good news for you frustrated marketers with different kinds of customers, is what the president realizes: that a brand's one thing is a prism, not a box.

In Ohio, for example, Obama's one thing manifests itself as moving forward from the bailout of the auto industry which created thousands of jobs for Ohioans.

Will he win tomorrow? I don't know. But I do know that Barack Obama understands the power of one thing.

Mitt Romney on the other hand has neglected to be one thing. He has not defined himself. Sure, he has come out with a clear message about the president—basically, "that guy stinks." But he's yet to define himself.

In fact, Romney's lack of definition of his one thing is what's come to define him. Romney's position has become "the man who changes his positions."

Not a very powerful message for the electorate.

I don't know who will win tomorrow. There are powerful associations already in place when it comes to blue states and red.

But one thing I do know is that there are lessons to be learned here for marketers.

About the author
Adam Kleinberg

Adam Kleinberg is CEO and founding partner of Traction. He has written over 75 articles in publications like to AdAge, Adweek, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable and Digiday.

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