Obama’s Nomination Highlights Evolution of Communications 1

(Courtesy of the New York Times)

By Kyle Austin

RaceTalk doesn’t officially endorse a presidential candidate. We leave that to TechCrunch. However, as a member of Generation Y, my choice was inevitable.

Senator Barack Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination last night, becoming the first black candidate to lead a major party ticket. However, “the story” coming out of his nomination last night wasn’t so much about race (we’re not about race either as Jeremy Caplan of Time recently noted) it was about looking back at his nearly improbable campaign and “the race,” which became a marathon battle for the Democratic nomination.

“Prevailing through an epic battle with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in a primary campaign that inspired millions of voters from every corner of America to demand change in Washington,” penned Jeff Zeleny for the front page of today’s New York Times.

While Obama’s campaign has transcended politics it has also given a glimpse into the evolving world of marketing and communications. The way in which the Obama campaign capitalized on open communication along with his understanding of setting a truly global image in our world “2.0” is something we can certainly endorse.

As Ellen McGirt of Fast Company poetically described in her April cover story for Fast Company entitled “The Brand Called Obama”:

“Politics, after all, is about marketing — about projecting and selling an image, stoking aspirations, moving people to identify, evangelize and consume. The promotion of the brand called Obama is a case study of where the American marketplace — and, potentially, the global one — is moving. His openness to the way consumers today communicate with one another, his recognition of their desire for authentic ‘products,’ and his understanding of the need for a new global image — all are valuable signals for marketers everywhere.”

Obama has fully embraced the Internet age and because of this, as McGirt also noted, the internet has embraced him. He was also adept at monetizing it. The “yes we can” message resonated across multiple communication channels and the viral video featuring the Black Eyed Peas, Scarlett Johansson and others became the campaign’s rallying cry as it exploded across the Internet.

He and his advisors made skillful hires of folks that understood social communication. Case in point: their appointment of Chris Hughes (yes the one that invented Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg), to head its online efforts. They adapted to giving the consumer control of their message and made Facebook and YouTube key aspects of their communication’s efforts.

Some academics and experts that I speak with on the subject of marketing and advertising tell me that the industry is in a constant cycle rather than evolving. What we are witnessing today is an aberration and it will never become fully transparent. In fact, we may eventually see the “somewhat” misleading and overly persuasive advertising and marketing tactics of the 60’s and 70’s reemerge.

I tend to think they’re wrong. I think today’s consumer is savvy enough to see through salesmen’s facades.

As Barack Obama has proven, hope and open communication are a powerful combination and this philosophy is one thing I “hope” doesn’t “change.”


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