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 A contributing writer for Fast Company, Lucas Conley is an experienced journalist with an eye for stories that change how we see the world. Widely published in a number of[…]

No, Lucas Conley says, Nixon and JFK paved the way.

Question: Is Barack Obama the first branded President?

Lucas Conley: Absolutely not. I think the political campaign process is... always been hand in hand with marketing. I think this year has been particularly interesting because as we’ve gotten down to McCain and Obama we’re seeing the kind of one-word branding technique. Obama is about change and McCain has been trying to be about honor and right down to Obama is using blue and McCain’s using green and they’re trying to brand each other either as the next Bush or...sorry...another Bush or McCain was briefly trying to call Obama Jimmy Carter, the next Jimmy Carter. So the marketing techniques, these kind of classic marketing techniques, are definitely being employed now but I think they’ve been employed for as long as we’ve had television to... for politicians to market themselves with. Looking back to the- that classic example of JFK and Nixon on television, the kind of make-up and the sweat that kind of made Nixon... His whole image kind of starts to fall apart in front of the television audience and then people have a different feel for him as a politician simply because of the way he looks, which is natural. It’s a human thing we do and it’s why marketing works so well in politics is the kind of manipulation and control of brands or ideas and getting those ideas out there is exactly what politicians need to do to communicate with millions- 300 million in the U.S. to get those messages out. And it’s surprising how little the information sometimes spreads when you hear what people- the stereotypes people have about Obama being Muslim like that New Yorker cover we saw a bit back. The control of these ideas and the spread of these ideas, as good as marketers are at getting them out there, sometimes you- I’m baffled at how little they penetrate and which markets they do and which they don’t.


Recorded on: 7/23/08