Destroying 'Crooked Hillary': Trump's Three R's Strategy

(Repetition, Repetition, Repetition)

By Published on .

For the moment, Hllary Clinton is enjoying a bit of a break from getting constantly bashed by Donald Trump on Twitter. (Enjoy it while it lasts, Hillary.) That's because today Trump has been otherwise occupied (specifically, meeting with Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan) -- and also because yesterday he was distracted by his latest Twitter chew toy: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Though Trump slammed Secretary Clinton three times yesterday, Sen. Warren was the subject of eight of his Wednesday tweets, including:

Eight out of eight of those tweets refer to her as "goofy Elizabeth Warren." Sen. Bernie Sanders also got name-checked/branded by Trump a couple of times yesterday -- as "Crazy Bernie Sanders" and just "Crazy Bernie" -- but over the past couple of weeks neither senator has been getting it as bad as Hillary Clinton, aka "Crooked Hillary." Trump has called her that 19 times (so far) on Twitter since May 1.

Ever since Donald Trump first tried out the "Crooked Hillary" nickname at a rally in upstate New York on April 16, he's pretty much fallen in love with it. Trump had previously labeled her "incompetent Hillary." But as The New York Times' Maggie Haberman noted at the time, "that adjective had four syllables, and Mr. Trump tends to pick names for his opponents that are shorter and likelier to stick with voters."

Yes, Donald Trump is a cunning marketer who knows that one of the basics of advertising is frequency, and that when it comes to branding, nothing beats the three R's: repetition, repetition and repetition.

It's worth noting that Trump has himself been the victim of unwanted branding. Among a certain media-savvy in-crowd that remembers Spy magazine, the snarky New York-based glossy that took publishing by storm in the '80s and '90s, Donald Trump will always be "short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump." Last fall, Spy co-founder Graydon Carter, now the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, wrote about coming up with that nickname, and how it clearly gets under Trump's skin to this day.

Hillary Clinton has a war chest and a brain trust that's been hard at work trying to figure out how to take on Donald Trump; the best attempt so far: using the words of Trump-bashing Republicans against Trump.

But Trump has a simpler, cheaper and more immediate solution: murder-by-nickname, à la "Lyin' Ted" Cruz and "Little Marco" Rubio.

Every schoolyard bully knows that he must sing his song again and again and again.

Simon Dumenco, aka Media Guy, is an Ad Age editor-at-large. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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