I just read Danielle Sacks’ post on Europeans Hearting Obama, which stirred me into a heartfelt response of my own…
When you think about it, Barack Obama, the human being, is in many ways the polar opposite of President Bush—some differences more apparent than others. So it should be of no surprise that Europeans and Americans alike (mind you Bush is currently enjoying a 71% disapproval rating in the U.S., according to CNN) who are disenchanted with the Bush brand should find Obama to be such an inspiring candidate. For both Europeans and now Americans, the Bush brand is about as cool as Microsoft. Obama, on the other hand, is the Apple of the public’s eye. Listening to Obama’s public–and web inspired–rhetoric, it is clear that Bush has become the avatar for an antiquated (and arguably corrupt) version of Politics. Few outside the U.S.—in my experience—would disagree. For many, this administration has come to represent Web 1.0 and is truly beta in the way it has sought to promote a business community that is receptive, or open, to fundamental innovation and progress.
I think there are probably quite a few Americans who, when traveling abroad, have ended up feeling embarrassed by the nearly universal anti-American sentiment provoked by this administration, not to mention the vicarious obligation Americans now feel to ensure these (often angry) international citizens that not every American is a cowboy/has an aversion to alternative energy paradigms. And therefore it becomes, I think, essential for Americans to consider how the rest of the world might vote in our election, especially now that Obama has permanently altered the way politicians run their campaigns. Imagine the following Obama could garner were he to start using his New Media-grassroots strategy on the international community, and imagine starting the Iraq war all over again (I said imagine) with a coalition of the willing. Truly, he is all the more successful when he motivates us to imagine possibility–especially this possibility–or our potential to move forward from here, to skip arm-in-arm toward a better tomorrow.
But forget “hope-mongering”, successful branding frequently takes advantage of our belief in possibility. It doesn’t have to go negative. Consider this: Ellen McGirt suggests in her article on the “Brand of Obama” that Obama’s success is primarily attributable to his “openness”—his “openness to the way consumers communicate with each other today”. “Openness” today is a very germane word, as Americans are eager for an administration open to possibility, to change and innovation, especially considering the popular view of the current administration as a bunch of calcified squares. America wants a polygon. So, thinking about the new, integrated, web-savvy world just around the corner, whose brand would you choose?