State of the Union and Re-Branding Obama

In 2008, Obama was the answer to the ailing economic, political and social strife. Astoundingly, his hope-inspiring brand was the gold standard in politics, with approval ratings soaring from 65 percent in January to 76 percent in February. Expectations were high and his rhetoric indicated such change was possible. His leadership and charisma could correct the broken path we were headed down. Obama faced a deepening recession, a broken financial system, rising unemployment, two wars in the Middle East and numerous other challenges. He was going cross party lines to spark vital change in Congress and fix the broken American machine. “The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth.” Nearly one year ago, Obama spoke these words to millions of hopeful supporters in his inaugural speech at the National Mall. Today, Obama’s approval ratings have sunk to 51%. Why? The American people don’t feel that he has done enough to address the economy and instead, that he has gotten bogged down in healthcare. By comparison, at this stage in George W. Bush’s presidency, he enjoyed approval ratings of 83%. While Bush’s popularity ended at historic lows, his first year was perceived as a success. Bush showed leadership after the 9/11 attacks and united the American public on a common cause. In contrast, Obama has divided the country with healthcare reform that strays from the priority of job creation. Pundits label Obama’s first-year performance as lackluster. A year ago, hopes were high as Obama was masterful in communicating his vision and building a Messiah-like brand image. Today, Obama’s brand value has plummeted. In short, Obama broke a cardinal rule of branding by not focusing on his constituents needs (i.e. jobs), instead wasting political capital on less important issues, such as...

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