Your Political Mission Impossible

Solve These Marketing Challenges for Candidates

By Published on .

How about we change up the pace a bit. Instead of me mouthing off at you, how about you -- and by you I mean people who work in the advertising/marketing/PR industries, not angry stragglers with an ax to grind -- offer ideas that could help the candidates. Here are the marketing challenges facing each (as I see it):

Barack Obama: At first glance, Barack doesn't seem to have a problem. He's getting all the free media, all the momentum. Hell, he's even got celebrities making killer ads for him. That said, I'm not the only one getting the creeps from all this Messiah-worship going on. If you think perhaps I'm overreacting, I suggest you check this out. The media may turn on him. It may not. I'll admit I'm probably stretching in trying to find a marketing challenge. (His biggest challenge will be the super delegates and the political machine.)
Challenge: How does Barack Obama create an ad that is less inspiring and deals more with specific policy issues and offers specific details? Bonus points if that policy issue is NOT the Iraq war.

Hillary Clinton: Where to begin? First, she was inevitable. Then, not so much. Then she cried and came back. Then Bill became the story. Now's she's loaning her campaign money and knocking heads around. I don't know that ads are going to help her at this point. What Hillary needs is some positive (and free) media coverage.
Challenge: What is a free-media storyline for Hillary Clinton that is a) positive and b) involves neither crying nor chastising a member of the press?

John McCain: John McCain may seem to have it made, but I'm not so convinced. Mike Huckabee just won't go away quietly. And now that many have assumed McCain's the Republican nominee, he's a big fat target for Democratic groups.
Challenge: How does John McCain drive a stake through Huckabee once and for all? As important what will be the three biggest issues on which Democratic groups base their attacks? (We'll save "How to neutralize those attacks" for a later assignment.)

Mike Huckabee: Huckabee just keeps plugging away. He might not have much money, but the cable channels seems to be giving him plenty of face time. And while he doesn't have much of a shot and his policy positions seem questionable, he's got a hell of a tagline: This should be a contest, not a coronation. But he just can't seem to break out of the regional mold.
Challenge: Huckabee needs a national 60-second ad that convinces people he's more than an Evangelical-Southern thorn in John McCain's side. How does he accomplish this? This ad cannot feature Chuck Norris.

Bonus Fun: You're a Democratic group or a 527. You've got 30 seconds to take down John McCain. Where do you hit him?
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