Brand Jackson vs. Brand Obama

There Are Better Ways to Keep Your Brand Relevant

By Published on .

Doug Melville Doug Melville
What happens when the best-in-class marketing and branding genius goes up against a brand that used to occupy the same space but didn't change with the times and is seen by many as irrelevant?

Ding-ding! Put the gloves on. Introducing Barack Obama vs. Jesse Jackson.

I'm not here to talk politics. But I do want to talk about how the black community seemingly never wants to let one of its own win the title.

Just when Obama, along with and his online team, his family and the wallets of the American people all seemingly add up to make him the perfect "branded" multicultural candidate for president of the United Sates -- POW! -- other, less-pristine "black brands" try to bring him back down to Earth.

First, it was Jeremiah Wright. I think it's fair to say that when someone in your congregation and a longtime family friend is running for the highest office in the land, you should turn down the inflammatory rhetoric a notch. You don't say "God damn America" and "AmeriKKKa" -- attempted brand assassination avoided.

Now, it's Jesse Jackson. Jackson's microphone picked him up saying, "Obama talks down to blacks -- I want to cut his nuts off."

For a person who ran for the presidency himself, and as a person who was an intern for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., you would think Jesse would realize the value of branding and the importance of words. So what possible reason could that comment have been made except desperation? And desperation is the stage right before brand irrelevance.

But the bigger picture here is this: What Jesse brought to the forefront was something that plagues many older brands. Without youthful souls, innovative minds and creative inspiration, the relevance of your previous brand accomplishments wears off. From there, brands gets stuck in a box, and the only attention they can get is by attempting to assassinate the new competitor in the court of public opinion. It's a shame that it seems to happen more in the black community -- but make no mistake, it also happens in consumer goods, marketing, entertainment, video games, etc.

The former big African-American brand name in politics needs to be careful, as this time karma may bite him right back. The Rainbow Coalition, the Keep Hope Alive Radio Show and his numerous speaking engagements all rely on advertisers, brand trust and a solid track record. If you add those elements to an economic downturn, and a newly inspired youth movement, Jackson's career may just have veered on the superhighway of "Remember when ..."
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