Barack Obama is rocking the vote. Not only is he outspending Hillary Clinton in his television and radio advertising campaign, advertising in 21 of the 22 states holding Democratic caucuses and primaries on Super Tuesday while Hillary has run ads in just 16 states; he is also tailoring his ads to local sentiments — anti-Wall Street in Hartford and Fargo, anti-Iraq war in Minneapolis and Albuquerque, says the New York Times.
It’s a highly sophisticated campaign. Visit Obama’s website which is using pop culture and the American belief in self-improvement, affirmation and creative visualisation to build up support for him. Start at the top. Next to his image is his message:
“I am asking you to believe.
Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington… I am asking you to believe in yours.”
See how it flatters voters while reiterating his claim to bring about real change in Washington: it’s a positive message aimed at getting the voters to identify with him.
Compare that with the banner headline on Hillary’s website:
Simple, positive and ambitious, but notice the difference: Obama starts with “I am asking you to believe. Not just in my ability (but) yours.” It could be taken from a book by Napoleon Hill, Shakti Gawain or other gurus of mind power and creative visualisation.
And, further down, below the navigation tabs, I saw today a YouTube video of pop stars singing “Yes we can” while Obama delivers his “Yes we can” speech. This should go viral.
Hillary’s website looks middle-aged by contrast. I support Hillary though I admire Obama. But I must say he is running a more sophisticated campaign. Of course, not even the best advertising can sell a product unless it’s good. And Obama’s certainly good, very good.
But would he be as effective outside America? He is being praised for his vision, his ability to inspire people, his empathy, basically his ability to work the crowd. Hillary by common consent is more of a policy wonk. Commentators say she gets boring when she starts talking about policy details. Yes, details can be boring but not to pay attention to them is dangerous, especially if they concern you. Politicians shouldn’t be judged by sound bites alone; the future of a nation depends on how they address specific issues.
Obama has charisma and moral courage. Already a personality cult is growing around him that no American president has enjoyed since John F Kennedy. (All right, since Ronald Reagan, if you will, though he was not so popular abroad.) Some leaders have this star quality which Obama has. But even stars can fail at the box office unless carefully marketed, and Obama’s campaign is pressing all the right buttons.