Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Fastest Rising Brand Ever

Those who visit Where's My Jetpack? with any frequency know that I love politics. It is drama in real time, changing from day to day, and on any given day, crazy things can happen. It's an unpredictable soap-opera. I also love politics because it's about branding, public relations and advertising on an accelerated and ever-changing schedule. It's impromptu theater in-the-round, and in this election year, some amazing and astonishing things are happening.

Before I go on, I will divulge that I have never voted for a winner in a presidential election, which made me a loser when it came to Clinton I as well as Bush II. I always end up on the disappointed side of the electorate. I am a registered voter, but I am registered Independent, which means I don't get to vote in my state's primary. I am a bystander when it matters - when we are selecting those who will contend in our national election.

That said, there is a brand emerging in American politics the likes of which has never been seen. Chalk it up to a Connected Age, where a person can create a video and have it seen by millions in a matter of days (if it's good enough), or where a speech can be broadcast worldwide with the click of a mouse. Or maybe we can write it off to good speech-writing , where the finely tuned pen of a young wordsmith can put words into the mouth of a politician and cause a nation to dream.

Imagine a young, upstart new cola, challenging Pepsi and Coke for a majority of market share, and you have the candidacy of Barack Obama. Imagine Obama Cola suddenly replacing Coke and Pepsi on the convenience store shelves. Imagine consumers creating Obama Cola videos that suddenly went viral and made the Diet Coke + Mentos video look like a bad and forgettable episode of The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Imagine sales of Coke and Pepsi falling. People would be plenty pissed. Especially the makers of Pepsi and Coke.

Those who visit Where's My Jetpack? with any frequency know that I love America. I make fun of her, of course. She's an easy target. But stink though she does, she's the best thing afloat. I do not, however, confuse my flag with my God, (apologies to my many atheist readers) and my star-spangled banner never died for me. I don't think we rule the world, and I don't think this land is somehow magically destined to keep the universe safe for democracy. Politics and religion don't belong together, and anyone who brings their God into politics had best be watched closely.

But not since I was a regular attendee at a Black Pentecostal church in Springfield, Missouri have I been so inspired by the orations of a preacher. Or rather, a politician. Obama does not out-and-out invoke God in his speeches, in fact, he keeps God pretty separate. But he has injected something spiritual into American politics, and I hope it can't be stopped. It certainly can't be duplicated, and anyone who tries (and they all have) only ends up looking like a late-to-the-game pretender. I suppose it really isn't all about speech writing. because if you put any of Obama's speeches in front of any other candidate, they would ring false - and fall flat.

I don't know if I'd vote for the man if he in fact does win the nomination of his party, but his brand is something to behold. I likely disagree with him politically more than I agree with him, but I can't help being stopped in my tracks when he's got the mic.

The video below, with uncountable viewings in only four days, sums up what I'm trying to say quite nicely. You can't watch this video and not be moved, regardless of your political persuasion. It was created from a speech delivered only one month ago.

While I would of course welcome the comments of my fellow Americans on this subject, I'd be most interested in the views of my Aussie, Canadian, English, European, African, Indian and Asian readers on what is happening in this country. What do you folks make of what's going on over here? Or does it even matter?

Thanks to Catch Up Lady for alerting me to this video.

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  • I've been waiting to see if you would comment on this.

    By Anonymous dirtsister, at February 6, 2008 at 10:29 PM  

  • You know I'm a regular, though not always sober, reader...

    From the left coast of Canada: Obama first, Clinton second, though not by much. Either one will spank the GOP nom.

    By Blogger Andy 3000, at February 7, 2008 at 2:58 AM  

  • Change, such a vague and fickle word. Often mistaken as the be-all and end-all of contention. Often neglected as a crossroad to contentment, or perhaps, complacency.

    Whoever wins, whatever the outcome, we will see radical change.

    By Blogger Joshua Shaner, at February 7, 2008 at 10:12 AM  

  • The NYT profile of the speechdude explained to me why, after the initial rush of an Obama speech -- the soundbite repetition, catchy parallelism and cadence, my takeaway is, as Zevon described, "A fistful of rain." To me, Obama speeches so far, while undoubtedly inspirational, seem like verbal aromatherapy. On top of that, I'm getting a creepy herd or cult kind of vibe. Political Halebop or the inevitable sequel -- Jimmy Carter: the Vengeance. The Jones Soda of politics. True it's grand to have so much interest in the political process,but if the track record is so sparse I'd at least like some specifics. Change, sure. I've been for it since Rocky IV. That's what elections are for. But change to what? I mean, besides the aromatherapy. Incidentally, I wonder whether the "yes we can" is meant to evoke Cesar Chavez circa 1972 and the immigration protests of 2006. If so we can add him to the MLK, RFK and JFK allusions. Fascinating times.

    By Anonymous ouija repair, at February 7, 2008 at 12:29 PM  

  • True, OR. But in debate, he actually gives specifics as to plans. Granted, they are wide-eyed Liberal plans that differ very little from Hillary's. His stump speeches are rousing, but in debate he's like a very boring professor.

    As for the cult - that's what so remarkable here. And you find yourself getting caught up in the tidal wave - then you shake yourself awake and say , "What the hell? I was almost hypnotized by a socialist!"

    The nice thing is we have a congress that can check him if he goes too deep into his "change" agenda.

    If "Change" means a new spirit of governing, bring it on. If "Change" means tax me to death to support some kind of New Deal or Great Society, not interested.

    By Blogger Jetpacks, at February 7, 2008 at 1:14 PM  

  • An opinion from my side of the pond, Holland, and more precise Amsterdam. As has been noted, the actual program of Obama does not differ from Clinton in any significant way. Only the persona does. But the persona really doesn't make a lot of difference, when you think about it...Worse still, you might like a guy (or girl) even if he's (or she) saying dumb shit. That's how the US ended up with an idiot like Bush Jr.

    That's my problem here: in a sense, it's a repetition of moves. America's way to elect a president seems to be to huddle behind a fitting figure and have him deal with all the crap you yourself don't feel like thinking about. When Bush Jr stepped up first, you voted for him because his not-a-damn-care-in-the-world personality fitted the times: the US were on top of the world at the time!
    Now that you're in a bit of a fix, you are loving a guy who has that saviour-like taste to him. Now, I like Obama a lot, but you gotta admit, you are going through the same motions that made that Bush idiot primus inter pares back when, so maybe that just isn't the way to go and pick your man (or woman)? Maybe you gotta listen, before you look?

    I guess what I am saying is: where's the debate on ideas in America? No American voter seems to care about that part...

    By Anonymous GijsP, at February 12, 2008 at 12:40 PM  

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