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There's been spirited debate here lately about the value of a "unified message" within the Democratic Party as it relates to the war in/on Iraq, and the ideal timetable for withdrawing appreciable numbers of troops.  We're alternately praising or bashing party leaders based on their varying stances on the withdrawal question, and when that seems somehow insufficient, we resort to praising or bashing each other.

I'd like to enter this conversation from a slightly different perspective than we've addressed in this debate so far.  But you've already read the conclusion in the diary's title: there's no way we (Democrats) can post substantial gains at the ballot box next year without that unified message.

Why?  Because the laws of marketing and branding won't allow it.

That may be an opinion, but it's a well-educated one.  This is my career, my business, my passion.

Your senior-level lesson in consumer behavior is below the fold.

It's safe to assume that the political opportunity that 2006 represents has caught the Democratic Party off guard.  A year ago, after Bush's reelection (or re-thievery, depending on your perspective), the party assumed that the next real chance to win appreciable congressional seats would coincide with the presidential election in '08.  

The continued fall, scandals, indictments and public disapproval of the Republican Party has been a pleasant surprised to Democratic leaders, but one they were irresponsibly unprepared for.  We were caught flat-footed.

So, 12 months ago, our leaders assumed that they had 3 years to strengthen the party's "brand" before the bulk of '08 activity began.  In actuality, they had only one year to do that.  And that year is up.

For those of you unfamiliar with branding and brand architecture...simply replace the word "brand" with the word "promise," and you have a working understanding.

Branding doesn't concern itself very much with the actual PRODUCT (in this case, the Democratic Party and the people who represent it).  Branding is much more concerned with the OUTCOME of the product, i.e., what the product is meant to DO for the consumer.  In the last 7 years, Nike has rarely shown you a shoe on a TV commercial.  That's because Nike isn't really selling shoes.  They're selling the outcome: victory, performance, ego, sweat, athleticism, sex - all the things the shoes are meant to do for you.  Nike, like every other premiere brand we consume, sells emotion.  It's "promise" isn't a great pair of shoes.

It's the same reason that Coke beats Pepsi, Budweiser beats Miller, McDonald's beats Wendy's, and why Republicans beat Democrats - not because the product is better, but because the branding is better.

Brand "architecture" - the extent to which your "promise" permeates each and every aspect of your operation - relies on one attribute over any other: consistency in the message.

The Republican brand (as it relates to the electorate's #1 issue, the war) has been consistent and unwavering: strength, safety, cavalier, heroism.  The Democratic brand as it relates to the same issue has been undefined, unprepared, wavering, unclear, inconsistent and confusing.  And the public won't buy that.

Rest assured, the act of voting is not at all unlike a retail transaction.  We compare, we buy, and we look forward to the outcome of our "purchase."

And even though polls show a public distrust for the Republican brand, consumers won't SWITCH brands unless they're convinced the alternative will be better.  In other words, when push comes to shove, it's still easier to stick with the evil you know then risk the outcome of the evil you don't know.

The Republican brand may suffer greater setbacks in '06.  Rove may be indicted.  Libby may be convicted.  A terrorist attack could take place on American soil.  Hundreds more troops could be killed in Iraq.  And guess what?  None of that will help the left.

You know as well as I do that the administration's current talk about withdrawing troops is motivated by one thing and one thing only: winning 2006.  As a diarist rightly pointed out yesterday, the sheer image of troops getting off airplanes, stepping on American soil, hugging their loved ones and kissing the ground will be more than enough for consumers to forgive whatever doubts they had about the Republican brand.  And it will happen, folks.  Those troops will come home, in large numbers, right before next year's elections.  Guaranteed.  

Those of you who assume that either A) bad numbers for Republicans automatically translate to good numbers for Democrats, or B) the message we communicate in relation to the nation's #1 issue isn't a vital element of the party's brand, or C) voters will embrace an ill-conceived brand, are sorely and dangerously mistaken.

Without a unified party, a consistent brand, or a coherent message, we're not even giving Joe and Jane Voter an alternative that they can justify.  If anything, we're giving them a negative brand message that, carried out too much longer, will actually do us harm come November.

Hope isn't completely lost.  It takes 9-12 months to penetrate a brand message into the American psyche.  If the Democratic Party comes to its senses now, we still have an opportunity to make hay.

This diary, as well as your comments, will be printed and mailed to a host of party leaders.  Use the recommend button at your discretion for greatest participation.

Originally posted to Rippe on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:38 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, then, I will just dig my cave right now. (4.00)
    America will get the government it deserves.  If America does not want to see the truth before them, we shall lose our democracy.  Branding, no branding, money or no money.  Democracy is participatory.  Many simply refuse to care.
    •  Well (4.00)
      I will say that reading the reports of how people in Egypt were beaten and killed in some cases because they simply tried to vote made me realize how angry I get when people don't vote. People die and suffer horrific violence because they try to exercise their basic rights while here in American people are "too busy" to vote.

      Even if people vote for candidates I don't support I respect them for going to the polls. They are voicing their opinions and I repsect that.

      What I don't respect are those who "are too busy" or who "don't care" to vote. I say that especially when people die and suffer horrific violence to get to the polls, as what happened in Egypt. (Although I hate to say it, we are probably better off that those Egyptians didn't vote because they supported radical, anti-American Islamist parties).

      •  I've always voted so far (none)
        but I don't want to die for Diebold.

        ...learn something new every day...

        by nhwriter on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:42:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  NAZI PROPAGANDA (none)
        Aside from a strong angle of anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews, the propaganda which was so evident during Hitler's rule was aimed at instilling in the German people a fear of Communism and other political systems - particularly the Weimar republic, which was seen to have coped so badly with the depression - and espoused Hitler as the `preferable alternative'. Much of the Nazi propaganda spoke about the poor economic reparation that Weimar had done, and professed the evils that would befall Germany if the people chose Communism or Social Democracy over Nazism. A Nazi leaflet, distributed soon after the burning of the Reichstag, proclaims:

        "The Reichstag in flames! Set alight by Communists! This is what the whole country would look like if Communism and its ally, Social Democracy, came to power!"

        In accusing Communists of instigating the fire, the Nazis instilled in the German people a fear of Communists and the notion that Hitler was the only truly safe option. The leaflet goes on: "Innocent citizens shot down as hostages! Farmers' houses burnt down!...stamp out Communism! Smash Social Democracy!". Continuing to portray communists as an evil party who would kill its citizens and burn their homes, the Nazis very successfully instilled a feeling of fear towards Communists, indeed "many German industrialists, fearful of Communism....gave the (Nazi) party financial backing."

        The rise to power in 1933 of a party with "a policy to rescue Germany from the disgrace of weak democratic leadership and the threat of world Communism"  could not have been possible without the propaganda machine that the Nazis orchestrated so successfully. Nor could the Nazi party have consolidated its hold on Germany without relying on propaganda to instill fear in the German people, as well as preying on existing fears, and achieving surrender of the individual rights of the German population.

        •  Again (none)
          branding.  The modern advertising and PR movement is somehwat loosely structured based on the success and effectiveness of the Pre-nazi and nazi-german propaganda machine...

          ...A machine that would have given it's left nut to be even 1/2 as capable as the modern American GOP propganda machine.

          As the diarist so prefectly stated in their well-written diary, "Those troops will come home, in large numbers, right before next year's elections.  Guaranteed."

          It WILL happen all under the brand "powerful, and back home to protect "us" even though they are "back home" as a result of the proddings of the left.  Even as it was the right who SENT them there on false pretenses in the FIRST PLACE.

          Branding.  They are the best at it even as they are the WORST at everything else.

          Great diary.

          •  PR Doesn't Derive From the Nazis (4.00)
            The universally acknowledged founder of the field of public relations was Joseph Bernays, who was a Vienese Jew who came to NYC and made a fortune.

            He was also, iirc, a cousin of Sigmund Freud.  

            As to the diary, business isn't politics.  If it was, a bunch of guys who failed in every business they were ever involved with that didn't get direct federal subsidies wouldn't be in control of the White House.

            Brands that are predictable are often overhauled because they become stale.  Hence, the ubiquity of "new and improved."

            And anytime someone starts making hard predictions about an election 11 months before it takes place and basing it on a single causal factor--the idea of "branding"--you should take it with a grain of salt.

            The revolution will not be televised, but we'll analyze it to death at The Next Hurrah.

            by Dana Houle on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 08:24:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Branding is bullshit. (none)
            The fact that it can be used to sell fascism pretty much sums it up. It can be effective when no one calls bullshit on it. No one called bullshit on the Nazis because big business supported it and everyone else was afraid. Same situation today: Big business (including the media) support the Republicans; Democrats were afraid. Democrats are finally getting their fighting spirit back and Bush's popularity is in the toilet. Branding won't withstand someone calling bullshit.

            There is no reason to expect the media to play along and not call bullshit on a bullshit Democratic brand just because they play along with the bullshit Republican brand. Mega-corporations (the media and their sponsors) have a built-in bias for the party of corporate welfare and endless tax cuts for the rich. You cannot assume that, because something like branding (propaganda) works for Republicans, Democrats can get away with it too. Democrats have to deliver in reality and not just in spin. They did this by defending Social Security, which did more to turn the political tables than any amount of branding/PR/advertising/propaganda/bullshit.

            Now as this relates to Iraq:

            What can Democrats deliver in reality? They don't currently have their hands on any of the levers of control that effect the situation. The only thing they can deliver is the truth. They don't need any fucking branding. They just need to start being honest:

            The root of the problem is the Republican desire to keep some level of U.S. military presence there indefinitely in order to control their economy, especially the oil. That is what fuels the insurgency. That is what we are spilling blood and treasure for. Reality refutes all the Republican bullshit on Iraq. Dems just need to have the courage to speak about it honestly and not shoot down our own when they do (i.e. Howard Dean.)

    •  Well that settles it (none)
      Never mind that all the most recent generic ballot polls show Democrats beating Republicans by double-digits.

      Real soldiers are dying in their Hummers, so that Republicans can play soldier in theirs

      by coldeye on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:43:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The same was true in the spring of '04 (none)
        Polling now means nothing in the fall of '06 and '08.

        If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will.

        by Yoshimi on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:11:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not To Worry (none)
        Rippe's diary is a good one and recommended - however it only addresses one area and that is the war. Granted Iraq is a major issue, probably thee major issue - but it not the only issue of concern to the public. I don't have to list the others here you know what they are.

        And just to show you how important those other issues are I am going to suggest that you all read an article in the Weekly Standard titled The Party of Sam's Club. This article will show you how Republican's are aware of the other issues of the day and why. It is very insightful and knowing what they are thinking will help us keep our eyes on the ball.

        •  Thanks so much (none)
          For the 'Sam's Club' article. If the Repubs actually executed what's suggested in this, I'd vote for them.  (DON'T pelt me without reading this article!)  Why can't the Dems come up with something like this?  Or, if they have, make it known?
          •  We DON'T need a 'unified' voice on the war. (4.00)
            We need it on the rest, but not that.  

            This line from the 'Sam's Club' article exposes the Rethug Achilles' heel:
            "convince Americans of the wisdom of repealing the New Deal."

            They just don't get it.  The New Deal is America. Not necessarily its programs (tho some like Social Security surely are), but the ideals behind it: that government's role is to work for the people, not big business, to ameliorate the worst excesses of capitalism, and to manage the economy for the benefit of all.  To be, in other words, the enforcer of the social contract and strong right arm of the political contract that is America (and more importantly, the idea of America).

            We need a unified message on everything BUT the war.  Let each candidate define his own position on the war and let the voters decide what is best.  Identifying ourselves by choosing one side in a polarized and polarizing debate is suicide, especially when our opponents control the context of that debate (e.g., the inevitable pre-election drawdown and return of some of the troops).  This is not '04, and these candidates are not running for president.  And, unlike the war, the Rethugs can not change who they are on economic, health care, corruption, government accountability, global melting, etc.  They'd cease to be Republicans.

            Far better to define our party in relation to things that a huge majority of Americans support intellectually and emotionally, and that are not merely transitory and in the control of our opponents.  For '06 and beyond.

            And, besides, its what Democrats have really been about since FDR.

            •  Well Said (none)
              I gave you a well deserved 4 for your views. The one thing that I would point out is that the article 'Sam's Club' was written by a couple of republicans. In fact one was an assistant to NY Times columnist David Brooks (and I would suggest you read his column of last week).

              Many Republicans are starting to see the light at least politically if not in their hearts. I agree with you in that most republican politicians won't see it the Sam's Club way but a lot of republicans on the street are. That is what is important - that republican voters are now seeing what is in theirs and the general publics best interest. Those voters are important to our taking back control of this country.

      •  A bigger concern (4.00)
        is that it is becoming established CW that the Democrats don't have a unified platform, don't know what they stand for, don't have a way to communicate their ideas to the public, have a knack for losing elections, etc.

        These critiques that started on the left are now being bandied around willy nilly by the right (e.g., David Brook's latest column in the NYT which I can't link to coz of the paywall).

        I think that the left of center criticism has been justified - the Dems have seemed to be flailing around wildly ever since 2000 (and even long before that, IMO).  But I think it's time we changed our own message about ourselves.  

        The truth is, except for a few years of confusion over "third ways" and getting caught up in dot com bubbles and 'new democrat' thinking, the left-of-center has always known and still knows, what we stand for:   Social and economic justice with opportunity for all and a sustainable, humane future for the planet.

        What we haven't come up with are the neat, 3-word phrases that can convey the message via an inhospitable media in an easily digestible, photo-op, sound-byte way.   In addition, we on the left are always arguing and debating one another.  Because that's in our nature.  Because we believe in that kind of fierce, questioning discourse.  

        But I think we need to shift the focus away from the idea that our side is characterized by a conflict of ideas, to the belief that we are made up of a confluence of ideas.  There are many brilliant values, concepts, desires, visions and aspirations that comprise the Democratic party, reflecting the true diversity that makes for American creativity and initiative.  We may differ on how we think it best to achieve a goal, but we certainly agree on what goals we want to reach.  And we also share a knack for being able to distinguish between justice and injustice, access and exclusion, transparency and obfuscation, moral and immoral, humane and inhumane, creative and destructive, peace and war.  Republicans like to muddy, soil, and defile the meanings of these words.  Democrats are committed to reinvesting them with meaning, and standing for the positive.  And we can do that because we know the difference between positive and negative.

        I think we can articulate a very clear agenda, and a very clear vision, both in broad strokes and in the details of specific programs and plans.  So, instead of going along with the CW that Dems are incompetent, confused, flailing, lost, at odds, in conflict, lets start saying that the Democrats represent the great diversity of viewpoints that make for a positive, creative and revitalized vision for America's future.  

        Instead of talking about ineptness and lack of cohesion, lets say that Democrats are energized by the vast number of opportunities that lie ahead to correct the errors of the current administration and restore balance and coherence to American domestic and foreign policies.  

        Whaddaya think?

        Reality addict - can't get enough of seeing it all clearly

        by writeout on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:33:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I read this at the library today. (none)
          Worth a look- it addresses the why of Coke vs. Pepsi, and the fallacy of New Coke. Democrats should check it out before bringing out a new image.

          ...learn something new every day...

          by nhwriter on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:55:06 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Well, thought out comment (none)
          It is important for Democrats to understand the liberal culture and lifestyle before they try to launch a big image campaign. A "unified" campaign will fail because the left will reject it as being unauthentic the first moment that they first glance  at it. These campaigns may actually futher splint the left.

          Really, think about it: this is what the New Democrats and the DLC were trying to do. They weren't successful, and any group that tries similar campaigns won't be successful either.

          writeout has correctly identified the unifying characteristics of the left: diverse in thought, independent, committed to democratic debate, and deeply moral, politically active.

          If we are to create a single vision, we should celebrate all of these characteristics.

          writeout, I would like to futher discuss this issue with you. I am going to add contact information to my profile so that you can reach me.

        •  Our strength is in our diversity??? (none)
          You mean diversity like the large swath of Dems who voted for war in Iraq v those who didnt? Or those who voted for bankruptcy bill reform, I mean deform, and the others who didnt? Medicare? Tax cuts for the wealthy?

          I think what is often touted as our "strength," ie, this "big tent diversity," which is supposedly representative of our nation's cornucopia of views (a euphemistically glowing way to say a mix that ranges from extremely harmful to enlightened policy), and therefore is good for the party (and for that matter, the nation) is actually a weakness and is bad for it.

          It sounds good, it feels good to say it, and many do say it because, frankly, that is what we are stuck with: Republican Lite or medium or even heavy, within our big tent. You cant unify a clear cut message around diversity that includes a big swath of the opposition's world and domestic view.

          There already is GOOD diversity without these characters and within the actual progressive nature of our party. That should be what we mean when we crow about the diversity of our party,  when we (rightly) toot our own horn on our diversity. And that's a diversity we can put a message around.

          Should a liberal Dem blog be driven into "safe zones" by a tame party, or should it drive a tame party to break out?

          by NYCee on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 07:09:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hmm, (none)
            I think that a vision that is defined by "social and economic justice with opportunity for all", as well as the commitment to creating an environmentally sound planet with a sustainable human future etc., is hardly the kind of platform that would include the pro-war, pro-tax cuts for the wealthy, pro-bankruptcy deform agenda of the conservative "Republican-lite" Democrats.  

            My point is absolutely that the diversity that gives us the vitality and energy to take back this country, is the diversity of views, ideas and initiatives that coalesce around those common progressive goals.  


            Reality addict - can't get enough of seeing it all clearly

            by writeout on Sun Dec 11, 2005 at 07:56:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  intransigence & defeatism (none) the very first posting.  I suppose some people have too much free time and nothing to do with it except dig themselves further into their trenches and not change.  

      I suppose if one fails to try, and then loses, there is always good old self-righteous rage as a consolation prize.  

      The rest of us can get on with the business of creating a consistent message and making sure it's heard.  

    •  MASS CONFORMITY (4.00)
      Marketing science is a required, but secondary tool for Democrats to master in time for 2006 and 2008.  First, we have a long way to go in actualizing the very fundamental conception of whom "we" are, what "we" stand for, and what "we" will fight and die for if needs be.

      Individualism ("Conservatives") and Collectivism ("Liberals") are competing models of mass conformity.  Individualism strives to maximize the expression of primitive impulses and immediate gratification.  Collectivism strives to suppress primitive impulses to advance the formation of "community". The election cycle of 2004 zeroed in on the issue of "faith".  Who has it, and who doesn't?  What does it mean to be "a man of faith", and how that should translate into policy?  Which church will dominate the definition of "faith" in America:  Evangelicals?  Catholics?  Some other?  

      The imperatives of mass conformity present us with profound, multi-generational choices: anti-intellectuals vs. elite intellectualism; consumerists vs. artists; religion vs. reason; and unilateralism vs. globalization.  Nothing less than our national identity is at stake.  What started as a debate among citizens twenty years ago now borders on civil war (today there is more talk of "secession" since 1860).  Intolerance, ignorance and hatred permeate the society.

      The pressure to fit into one conformist model, or the other, has never been greater since the advent of mass media.  Politics is only one expression of this schism in our evolving civilization.   Twentieth century examples of the self-same conflict have been articulated, in history, as Nazism and Marxism.  Today, in America, the paradigm is "Red States" and "Blue States".  New to the lexicon: "Red Media" and "Blue Media".

      How we deal with the twenty first century implications of this dichotomy will be determined by how we respond to the disastrous outcome of the last Presidential election this year.  Along with Bush and Kerry, "God" was on the ballot in 2004, but so were peace and prosperity.

      We share God, but we must OWN "peace" and "prosperity".

      •  Collectivism has to win out..... (none)
        ...United we stand, divided we fall. How to sell this idea is for the experts, but to allow indivualism to triumph will be a collosal failure for our nation for generations to come.
          Some brief ideas since this diary and it's comments are going to be sent out to Dem leaders:

         Somehow we new to call for a return to traditional American values and contrast what we propose to "New-Republicianism" (these aren't your father's republicians) Specifics such as budget deficits, outsourcing of American jobs, trade practices favoring corporations and hurting the middle class are some of the issues that can help reinforce this idea.

          We must provide a vision and that vision has to contrast what the last six years has brought us. It can be argued that the Iraq war is about securing energy resources for the US. We are using treasure to solve the eventual problem of running out of oil. In doing so we have started a very unpopular "pre-emptive" war and alienated  in differing degrees our traditional allies. We have even forced some of those allies into positions they would rather not occupy. Instead of leading the world with new energy solutions we are making the globe a more dangerous place. Yankee ingenuity and American "can do" spirit can solve this problem if given the leadership and opportunity. Besides it's a better vision than a manned mission to Mars.

          This tactic, energy independance, will solve problems on several levels. Jobs will be created, fosil fuels will no longer harm our environment. We will again have an export to sell to the world. But foremost it will be the biggest step towards US and global security.

        •  Good Observation (none)
          Dems have been excruciatingly short sighted for far too long.  The "leadership" has mindlessly pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into tactical marketing programs that don't really offer long term solutions, but rather a tactical counter-punching strategy.  The big thinkers of the 1930's through the 1960's that conceived and implemented the New Deal and the Great Society are nowhere to be found anymore.

          The transformative impact of an effective Energy Independence platform would provide solid branding opportunities well beyond 2006.  It could frame the political debate on issues ranging from economics to military conflict for decades to come.

      •  Liberalism is NOT collectivism. (none)
        And to say it is only feed the paranoia of voters.

        If you must see US politics as a dichotomy, I think this is better: radical individualism versus responsible individualism.  

        The first sees society as nothing but atoms, isolated and inherently antagonistic in a zero-sum game.  The latter sees society as molecules, collectives of individuals, who have some separate and some common interests, and who can work together to transforms the game into a non-zero-sum endeavor.  The former focuses on the role of the uber-leader of the group, whether family, business or party.  The latter focuses on the components of the group, many of which themselves are groups (i.e., families, businesses, parties or interest-groups within same).  The former produces a politics of greedy, selfish units lead by an authoritarian father or father-group.  The latter produces a politics of trying to get units to work together (often by appeals to self-interest but as often against same) and, if it has leaders, they facilitators more than anything else.

        The former is modern conservatism.  The latter may not be liberalism, but I would argue its what it aspires to be.

    •  And that really.. (none)
      is the underlying issue.  We are not conditioned to critically think anymore.  We are conditioned to respond to react emotively to brands.  You could  develop a kickass Democratic Party brand but that still wouldn't address the hard truth that people these days are so easily swayed by the architecture of a message that is designed to appeal to impulses.        We are literaly being spun out of control with all the spin thrown at us.

      So, digging a cave might be a good idea.  The future of our society is now based on a Coke or Pepsi mentality.

      so you think I'm a troll? Well kiss my hairy troll nalgas then

      by MetaProphet on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 09:21:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rec'd (4.00)
    Great diary, I think you're 100% correct. I've never really believed for the average voter (not political geeks like those of us on this website) votes on the basis of perceptions, not policies and of course, an image or brand. I've said it before, but it baffles me why the Democratic Party doesn't simply hire a PR/Advertising firm and completely re-do its image, because whther just or not, our imagine in 2005 is that of a weak, divided, ineffectial, mommy party. And that has to stop, it's the only way of getting to voters.


    by michael1104 on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:48:15 PM PST

    •  Yeah, and how do we make (4.00)
      sure that it doesn't come out with:

      "Together, we can do better" ?

      I really want to know.  I mean this doesn't even have the power of the old "Avis, we try harder" to which it bears a superficial resemblance.  At least that message had the advantage of humor, appeal to the underdog, and conveyed the message that the employees would be working hard to please.

    •  "Dems Hire PR Firm" (none)
      ...too weak to make their own message!

      ...trying to fool the American Republic!


      ALL LIFE on this planet is as deserving as your child's.

      by leftout on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:28:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think (none)
        it has to be advertised that Dems hire a PR firm. Call it consultants...

        I HATE REPUBLICANS, HATE HATE HATE THEM!!!!!!!!! UGHHHHH [-5.50, -4.69]

        by michael1104 on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:37:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Republicans... (none)
          employ multiple PR/branding/research firms.

          AND they have Karl Rove, for the time being.  Love him or hate him (and I hate him), he's a hugely effective marketer.

          •  isn't a mid-term election different? (none)
            Let's set aside treating Americans as consumers instead of citizens for the moment. Isn't a mid-term election more local/regional than the national. Why should there be one brand to fit them all in 06?
            •  Yes and no (none)
              All politics may still be local to some extent.  But Tip O'Neill wasn't entirely right.

              National conditions -- summarized by the general esteem in which your party is held nationally (and composed of presidential approval, the economy, scandals, etc.) -- have a profound effect on inter-election seat change in Congress.  Though each process may ultimately be local, aggregated their results sure resemble an invisible hand of national forces.

              •  LOL, at the invisible hand (none)
                and interference with atomistic market forces. You may be right, but I don't think so. The tent seems too big to me to have a consistent message that is not just pure pablum.
                •  The people while allowing that local (none)
                  concerns often decide the non presidential elections, also realize that their choice also has a profound effect on the national situation.

                  Given the results coming out of the absolute Republican control that we have had now, if the Democrats could get their act together and give the voters a real reason that they can clearly understand why we need Democrats in Washington, we can do it.

                  If we fail to do that you can bet that there will be little change in the setting than we now have in power.

                  This diary is actually far more correct than it is wrong.

                  Don't blame me, I am still trying to figure out what is on the Blue dress :) eaglecries

                  by eaglecries on Sat Dec 10, 2005 at 01:52:15 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, but... (4.00)
            Rove's is a Dishonest, Mean-spirited brand. He will lose in the end. People may be slow to catch on and impressionable, but most aren't buying the Rove/Bush snow-job these days. They've been laying it on pretty heavily since Katrina and it just ain't getting them there the way it once did.

            Even "Marketing" has its limitations. There's really nothing like good, down-home honesty.

            I sometimes think the dialog generated by the Dem's differences of opinion is so healthy and so real that most Americans are actually digging it.

            Imagine all people divided into two cookie-cutter shapes: "Cookie-Cutter #1" produces everyone in the Republican Party--all identical...

            Not that I don't agree with the diarist, but I hope humans find a way out of this desire to be pigeon-holed. I think the Dems offer such a fresh, real image right now--so different from the automatons on the Republican side--each an individual searching for his own best truth--his own best way to serve the public.

            I don't know. I just think people will find it a refreshing change. I know I don't enjoy being steam-rolled daily by a relentless Republican Marketing Machine. As a matter of fact, I hate it. Most of the people I work with (in Florida's Bible Belt) seem to feel the same way. They're tired of being manipulated.

          •  I too am in marketing and branding and (4.00)
            I agree with everything you said except I have two responses - one relates to quality of branding and the other relates to the issue of a "unified message".

            I go back and forth on the unified message thing in part because it relates to the quality of message and in part because we have a much more diverse party than the GOP and I like that about us.  I think we should be "unified" like Target is.  In other words, they always have their red and white bullseye, but they are able to sell products like Tide detergent in one ad and "cool summer dresses" in another and you always know it is Target.  I think the issue of unity is less about the list of items and more about overall philosophy.  Adherence to an overall philosophy has been where I have seen disunity.  In other words, it isn't so bad to have various plans for withdrawl from Iraq, what really hurts is when you get a strong statement that we should stay and another that we should go.  I think that we should all be able to agree that we have to get out at some point and that sooner would be better than later.

            The other point is the quality of the branding.  I think Dems branding quality is more akin to the "slicer dicer for $19.95" late night ads than it is to a Target, Nike, Coke or Pepsi.  The branding is driven by the list rather than the quality of the philosophy so it often seems incoherent.  Like in the slicer dicer ad where they say "But wait there's more!  If you call right now, in addition to getting the slicer dicer you also get this pet hair remover ab-so-lutely free!"  So you're thinking what does a kitchen slicer dicer have to do with a pet hair remover...I know I am.  It doesn't have anything to do with it except that they are taking an opportunity to move a product that wasn't all that successful.  That is what I hear in our messaging a lot of the time.  A sort of mish-mash of ideas and topics with little effort to weave them together.  

            Rebuilding a brand usually requires going back to basics and I don't think it would hurt to do that right now.  What are the basic principles of being a Democrat?  I am not asking about what the "correct" voting record would look like.  I am talking about the philosophy behind that voting record.  That is where we have a very valuable brand and message, but few attempts are made to share that philosophy.  That is where our populist roots are and sharing the philosophy is how we can connect to more voters.  Even in one short year. (I hope).

            Thanks for writing this diary.

            •  There's a missing element. (none)
              When I write ads, I generally don't have the luxury of knocking other brands. I wouldn't want to, either. In traditional advertising you generally don't mention the competition. There are some famous examples, such as, the Pepsi Challenge, but they weren't the industry leader.

              Before I get off on a tangent, politics is a different animal. Negative ads are rampant on both sides and that changes the entire mix. I'd argue that the branding of the party doesn't matter nearly as much as the branding of the candidate and whether that brand can stand up to attacks from the other side.

              Clinton was a masterful politician. He branded himself and his campaign beautifully. From the bridge to the next century to "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow," Clinton sold optimism. Further, people just liked the guy and he deflected criticism as well as anyone.

              I wouldn't worry too much about the party brand. I'd worry more about getting candidates who can brand their campaigns.


              •  Well I understand what you are saying (none)
                and on some level I agree, but it is back to politics "is" different and really about politics "is" a contact sport.  The thing that the GOP have done really well is to divide and conquer us Dems and that is why I am tending towards the "quality philosophy" rather than the more pedestrian "list" of issues as a start towards re-branding.

                I am thinking more and more lately about the "voting philosophy" v. the "voting check list".  I am not yet able to articulate well what the difference is because I only just realized that the distinction between the two drive a lot of my opinions about Hillary Clinton, Biden, Lieberman and others.  The thing about Bill Clinton was that he was masterful at branding himself, but I never felt that he branded the party well if you know what I mean.  I knew what his philosophy was, but I didn't have that sense of the party as a whole.

                Obviously, you recall the "Cola Wars".  It was the only time when Pepsi really posed a significant threat to Coke.  You might say Pepsi was the GOP and Coke the Dems.  Pepsi knocked at every door and on every point while Coke was foolishly introducing "New Coke".  It was only when Coke returned to its roots and ditched new Coke - re-established their tried and true product - that they took back their definitive lead in the market.  Disclaimer: I worked on Pepsi during the Cola Wars for some of those legendary upstarts that managed to really scare the Coke people.  I remember thinking then that our gain was due to their short-comings and mis-steps.  Afterall, it was only sugar water we were "warring" over.  The Dems have much more to offer than Coke did then.  We have equality, freedom, democracy, and more.  We are pretty damn great and we should be telling people that.

              •  large-scale brands work (none)
                A big reason for the gop success in past 25 plus years is that they have branded liberals as weak wasters of your hard-earned money who are hypocrite elitists to boot.

                conversely, the gop brands itself as one of the people, not elitist, strong, confident, patriotic, devout, encourage individual achievement, etc., etc.

                it's been effective. and of course it's been pushed hard by the noise machine.

                now that we are getting our own noise machine i think it will be easier to brand gop as corrupt hypocrites who only want to steal from the government and who can't manage an economy and who steal our kids to die in the desert and who lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie lie .....

                dems need to push a brand for themselves - we care about you, we want your tax money to be well spent, we know people need govt programs for health and retirement, environment, fair taxation, opportunity and education, make america work for everyone, think ahead, plan .... get off the oil habit asap ...

                yadda yadda

                an ambulance can only go so fast - neil young

                by mightymouse on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 08:56:24 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  Garrison Keillor Sums Up Basic Liberal Philosophy (4.00)
              Garrison Keillor's book Homegrown Democrat sums up the basic liberal philosophy well and simply: "the politics of kindness"

              From the Powell's review:

              Liberalism, Keillor declares, 'is the politics of kindness,' and he traces his own ideology to his kindly aunts and his access to good public education, including a land-grant university. Though he criticizes Democrats for losing touch with their principles, as when they support the drug war, he catalogues 'What Do-Gooder Democrats Have Done for You,' from civil rights to clean air, though he acknowledges, 'The great hole in the compact is health care.' 'The good democrat,' he declares, distrusts privilege and power, believes in equality, supports unions, and is individualist -- 'identity politics is Pundit Speak,'

              Many examples -- making sure the ambulance gets there within 5 minutes, making sure everyone has a chance at a decent education through the funding of public universities -- make this a good place to start in rebranding liberalism and the Democratic Party.

              In contrast, here's Garrison Keillor's view of the Republican Party:

              In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah

              This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

              This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

          •  actually... (none)
            anyone reasonably competent would look like a genius in Rove's job, i.e. anybody better than the DLC political consultant class.

            Remember, he's building on hundreds of billions of dollars of GOP propaganda spent over the last generation.

            Democrats are building on what Clinton raised and spent over his time in the White House to build the Democratic Party brand... and $0.00 isn't a whole lot to work with.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:56:32 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  actually... (none)
            anyone reasonably competent would look like a genius in Rove's job, i.e. anybody better than the DLC political consultant class.

            Remember, he's building on hundreds of billions of dollars of GOP propaganda spent over the last generation.

            Democrats are building on what Clinton raised and spent over his time in the White House to build the Democratic Party brand... and $0.00 isn't a whole lot to work with.

            Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

            by alizard on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:00:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  How we can win (none)
            This is a great diary and IMHO you are right on the money Rippe--you have correctly identified the problem. and that doesn't mean the "sky is falling"'ve made a shrewd and unfortunately stark assessment of the political reality.

            by the way, I hate Rove too, but that's an aside....

            what needs more discussion, and continual pointing out... is what needs to happen to make a difference--specifics about what this party needs to DO to "brand" itself correctly... and you are one of the people that can give a very important, directed course of action that if they have any sense, they'll take. In short, we need to know more about how we can win.

            in addition to that...because the branding IS critical, we also need to find a way to STOP the behavior of democrats (seemingly or actually) bowing to the political winds without a solid POV in the bunch of us!! I'm on this topic because TWICE today, liberal folk I know were on the rampage about how neither Dean NOR Pelosi (who I've grown to admire at least a little because of this site...)ever have "considered opinions that they stick to and how Dean is in left field to the degree that he seems loony."

            as others have pointed out, it's our democratic principles of valuing diversity etc. etc. and propensity for discussion that are unifying...but how to brand (AND behave) as though we "have considered, firm stances on issues that will NOT change with the political winds...unless someone brings in new information that is undeniable..." and THEN we are able to talk about what changed our minds and why.

            etc. etc. you get the point...

            plus I'd like some talking points on how to respond to comments like the above re: Dean and Pelosi.

            if anybody read this far...thanks. and thanks again for the diary Rippe. nicely done.  

          •  "hugely effective marketer" (none)
            Smearing is a form of marketing, I'll grant.

            But if it is brand management, it is managing X for failure.

      •  Frontline (4.00)
        Frontline ran a program showing Republican message consultants (Frank Luntz, I believe) testing and coining phrases like "clear skies initiative."  Didn't seem to hurt them...

        Anybody seen my owl?

        by Minerva on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:35:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It will hurt them (none)
          when people find out they have been duped. Your owl told me that...
          •  I don't think so. (4.00)
            People will vote for republicans while drowning in filth.

            If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will.

            by Yoshimi on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:15:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  No offense, but you are dreaming (none)


            Mitch Gore

            Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

            by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:16:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  do you seriously think that people have not (none)
              turning against Bush because of being lied into the war. I know quite a few who now hate the man. Maybe not the entire party - yet, but if they are forced to face the truth with a few more lies, I think we can win some of them over.

              On the other hand, there is no doubt a core that are unreachable. So yes, that is absurd. But they will never face the fact that they have been lied to...

              •  Case by case you can aruge that (none)
                but even there, it reenforces the larger perceptions about politics and politicians in general... that they are all crooks.

                I don't agree with that view, but it is the general view of a vast swath of the electorate, many of whom now simply don't vote.

                My point was, that running as "we are honest" is a tough sell to be taken seriously as a larger theme or brand of any political party (in this case the Dems). It also only takes one corrupt Dem to throw the entire "brand" out the window and be rife with counterattacks by the opposition.

                It is a non-starter from where I sit.


                Mitch Gore

                Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:03:14 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  humm, thanks for the perspective. n/t (none)
                  •  All Republicans need to win (none)
                    Is keep telling the same big fat stinky LIE over & over & over until its believed, that plus the fact that THEY count the votes and its virtually impossible currently for a Democrat to win.

                    Good candidates, better ideas, & honesty dont mean a dman thing in todays political arena.

                    Just how bad can you make your opponent look by lying, and then tell the biggest stinkiest lie you can to make yourself look good and keep telling it.

                    When these lies are backed up by the MSM the game is over.

      •  Yeah, like the Repugs (none)
        never hired a PR firm? All they are is a PR firm!

        -8.25,-8.36 As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it? - William Marcy Tweed

        by sidnora on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 07:52:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I second the recommend.. (none)
      I don't know why the Dems don't do this.  Much of the current apparatus seems rather out of touch & to assume that voters aren't as savvy as they are - and maybe they're not so savvy on issues, but they're extraordinarily savvy on the, uh, marketing thereof and how well it works.  When a photo-op clashes with whatever notion of "brand" people have in their heads, you've got a problem, and the Kerry campaign didn't seem to be too aware of this..  After all, skill in marketing is a kind of competence, and if the Dems aren't competent at marketing and PR, how will Joe Public be convinced they'd be competent at anything else?

      "What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs. Then this becomes a different town." - Grover Norquist, 1995

      by daria g on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:58:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can do that. (none)

      Give me the chance to correspond directly with the relevant decision makers and I promise that I can provide a viable methodology and content.  

      I will not waste anyone's time along the way, and the approach I propose will produce results.  Although I am not an advertising or marketing professional, I do have relevant academic background and relevant track record in my own industry.  

      Rippe, is your correct email address the one you've got listed on your page here, at AOL?   If so, expect email from me (or please post your present email address in this diary).  My email address consists of first initial last name at a domain that has an obvious geek-word in it.  The subject header will be unambiguous.  

      •  something specific... (4.00)

        I posted this in another diary about responses to Republican use of maniuplative advertising tactics, and got thirteen 4s for it, so here it is again for whatever it's worth.

        This was off the top of my head at the time; I can write it up in a more formal manner for use in appropriate channels.


        Here's how to fight this stuff effectively.  

        Key principle:  emotion leads, reason follows.

        First, for most people, calling attention to their present emotional state or otherwise asking them to self-reflect usually elicits a defensive reaction.  So the thing to not do is to say to people, "You're afraid.  You're scared because the Rs are trying to scare you..." etc.  

        Second, saying "The Rs are trying to make people afraid, here's how they do that..." and exposing the techniques, is only slightly effective: because it depends on people using facts & reason to alter their present emotional state, which is the reverse of what actually happens (emotion leads, reason follows, not the other way 'round).  

        Third:  What works is this:  

        Go for an entirely different emotional set.  The opposite of fear is love.  The opposite of despair is hope.   In religion, the antidote to "God-fearing" is "God's love."  In politics, the antidote to a culture of greed at the top and insufficiency everywhere else is to promote hope for a better future.  

        Use language that is rich in sensory content, language that connects at the physical-body level, not abstraction.  Paint the picture, make it vivid, make it sound clear, make it feel tangible, give people so much sensory detail that they can easily imagine themselves in the picture and feeling how it is to live in the world you're describing.  

        For candidates speaking to the public:  You can't do this in a detached manner; you can't talk about feelings while you're stuck in your head.  You have to put yourself into the picture, make it real for yourself, feel what you're speaking about.  People tend to empathize with feelings that they would like to feel (this is not a simple tautology).  Tone of voice is as important as body language, and vital when dealing with radio.  All the nonverbal cues have to be congruent with the verbal ones; don't shake your head "no" when you're saying something affirmative, etc.  Emotional states are contagious.  Feel it; describe it; and people will be with you.  

        I could go into exhaustive detail on these points if anyone's interested; perhaps in a separate diary.

  •  I suspect you're right... (none)
    but hope you're not.

    It's true the GOP has their message in place already for 06: "retreat and defeat" Democrats.  I've seen it in two op-ed columns and three letters to the editor already, and I have a feeling I'll be seeing it much, much more.

    •  CNN just reported that 50,000 people (4.00)
      rec'd a GOP ad via email using white flag imagery and "retreat and defeat". Damn they're good.

      How's this for a comeback/soundbite: Democrats are trying to end the Lieing and Dieing.

      There may come a point in our disagreement when I can no longer dispute you on logical grounds, but I can still punch you in the nose. Ludwig Wittgenstien

      by bostonjay on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:15:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That white flag ad will backfire (none)
        Just like the Purple Heart bandages. Sometimes they push the envelope too much and this is one of those cases.
        •  That's what I was told about the Swift Boat ads (4.00)
          If we allow ourselves not to respond and play the defensive, then they win!
          •  Though you have a point... (none)
            ...about not letting things go that should be addressed, I really think the two are apples and oranges.

            Kerry did a lot of things to make himself specifically vulnerable to the attacks the Swifties pulled off, and did pretty much nothing to mitigate them when they happened.  This is a different situation.

        •  How did it backfire? (none)
          Kerry's image was insidiously tarnished by the combination of swifty attacks including the purple hearts. Sure, we here were appalled but Bush got elected (sort-of).
        •  I dont recall... (none)
          ...the purple heart bandages backfiring.  People wore them proudly, completely oblivious to the hypocracy of claiming to support the troops and at the same time insulting their sacrifices with a cheap publicity stunt.

          The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

          by DawnG on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:47:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, it all did (4.00)
            October 16, 2004
            I was working at our local headquarters this morning when one of our volunteers came in to show us a mail piece they had received today from the Swiftboat anti-Kerry people addressed directly to her husband, a retired fighter pilot who had served in Vietnam. The piece was large, full color, and multiple pages - very expensive. She said he was not happy about receiving the piece (he's supporting Kerry).

            As she was showing me the mailing an older gentleman (in his 70s) walked in to headquarters. He looked very angry and he was almost in tears. He said, "This has got to stop. I got a mailing from some Swiftboat group. Give me a Kerry yard sign." He was a veteran.

            I was distracted by a phone call and missed the rest what he said. Another volunteer later informed me that this gentleman told them he had voted for dubya in 2000.

            •  could be... (none)
     had some blowback but I don't recall the "poll numbers" being adversly affected by it.

              Which is a surprise because it was all very disrespectful to veteaens and people in uniform.

              The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

              by DawnG on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:27:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  No it won't. (none)
          The media is on their side, not ours.  Someone was on AAR Majority Report and said that the day Clinton was impeached for lying about a blow job, 68% of Americans thought that congress and the Republicans were wrong for doing it.  But the media jumped all over it and it was thusly ok.  Now, a NYT poll says that 52% of Americans believe that Bush lied in order to get us to go to war.  That should be huge.  But the Right-wing Corporate Media (GE, Viacom, Disney, Time Warner, Newscorp) aren't covering that story.  So it's a non-event.  Things like this don't backfire unless the media declares that they backfired.  Like Jerry Kilgore's ad saying Kaine wouldn't execute Hitler - that was so over the line even the Washington Post had to get on Kilgore for it.  But much of the Virginia state media didn't - Media General which controls the Richmond and Charlottesville papers bashed Tim Kaine at every opportunity.  

          The media will play this up as Republicans fighting hard and Democrats being soft.

          That said - Dean is right.  And we have two choices here.  We can duck and run like we always do, or we can stand up to the bully and hit back.  Bullies usually don't know how to handle that.  On the front page of dKos you have the quote from Harry Reid saying Joe Lieberman is alone - that's a start, that's not backing down.  Murtha isn't going to back down.  Maybe the particular words can be improved but the message is right - we cannot win in Iraq, we need to get out of there.  I think that if we continue this line here then we will take a couple lumps now but it will show later on that we are strong and aren't going to get walked all over and aren't going to sell out our beliefs in order to do what we think will get votes.  The media will have to cover it and people will here our side of the story.

          That's the only hope.


          Democrats *do* have a plan for Social Security - it's called Social Security. -- Ed Schultz
          -3.13 -6.05

          by FredFred on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 08:03:29 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Hey, here's an idea (4.00)
        why not say what democrats are for rather than what they are against.  This is a huge problem with the left, they're often perceived as the party of negativity, weakness, complaint, etc.  "Trying to end the lying and dying" just buys into the frame that republicans have created to the effect that democrats have no plan of their own, only criticism.  A good democratic brand has to express strength (none of this touchy feeling "togetherness crap") and a positive message.
        •  OK, so how about this (none)
          We're for getting the Guard and Reserve the hell home, where they belong, and having them here to help out when there are things like hurricanes, floods, tornados...

          We're for schools that have good teachers, decent buildings, adequate supplies and books. We want the kids to have good families, too, and will fund help for them, but we can't FORCE them to be good families. We don't poke our noses where they don't belong, unlike some people we can think of.

          We're for health care for ALL our citizens, regardless of age, employment status, and income. The rest of the civilized world manages it, surely we can do as much as they do.

          That's a start...  

          •  I doubt this will be read as this diary is (none)
            already a few days old, but these suggestions are not a brand but policies.  I, of course, agree with all these suggestions, but what is needed is a broad image of what the democratic party stands for, not a series of policy suggestions.
      •  GOP ad (none)
        The retreat and defeat, white flag video is currently here:

        Say no to hate, bigotry, and the author of the Fed. Marriage Amendment, Marilyn Musgrave. Please donate to Angie Paccione.

        by OLinda on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:34:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  What would be interesting: (none)
        To move this debate along, I would like to see polls measuring the impact of such GOP smears. I wonder, given the way Forrester's smears backfired on him in the November election, if these smears have seen their day in the sun.
  •  Planning (none)
    I am sure we would do better with a lot of planning and research to improve our "brand". But there are other issues that we can use besides Iraq.

    Corruption is going to hurt the GOP big time.

    We will just have to find a way to make it happen in the time we have left. Do we have any alternative?

    A President in his own league. The Bush League!

    by Tuba Les on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:54:54 PM PST

    •  Unfortunately... (none)
      There's only one #1 issue, and that's Iraq.
      •  Correct about Iraq,,,,,, (none)
        not sure about the rest of your theory.

        I am a Democrat because I agree with their principles.  I agree with their platform.  However, I frequently disagree with the proposed method to achieve party goals.  And that is another reason I am a Democrat - I am allowed to disagree.

        To be a Democrat means we are allowed to be individuals, with the right to have our voice heard.  We are allowed to offer up our opinions, and do not have to be robots,,,,puppets mouthing the party talking points.  

        Why not stress that angle?  A party with common goals with insight, opinion, and solutions welcome from EVERYONE in the party.  Just as our country was designed to be.  In the Democratic party, an American is welcome to voice their opinion.  It will be heard.

        "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 2120+ dead Americans. Jesus Christ, make it stop already.

        by Miss Blue on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:54:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The citizen-candidates... (none)
          like the Iraq Vets, Hackett, Lentz, Harris, etc., plus teachers like Courage, ex-FBI like Rowley, and Iraq war moms like Harrell wil do a great job conveying this notion.  The are going to be our outsider image, and we will benefit greatly from it.
        •  The freedom to be who you are (none)
          I think Democrats can actually make a virtue of their differences as long as they are HONEST differences.  Although I'm an old communitarian type progressive -- probably less libertarian than most of the folk on this site -- I think the Republicans have finally gone far enough to remind people that individual liberty is worth defending. Both Independents and traditional conservatives are getting very nervous about the religious right, the Patriot Act, and other signs of Big Brother. If Democrats shut their mouths in a phony show of unity, they will lose. Honesty, passion for real democracy and compassion for the poor are the only "brands" that we need.
        •  But to be honest (none)
          You are engaged in this, and your personal reasons are of course, for you completely valid. Those same dynamics are not what motivates most when deicing to vote and for whom. It simply isn't Unfortunately what this diarist is talking about is 100% correct. You do your due diligence and apply critical thinking to your views politically and are engaged. That's is great and I applaud that. But that vast majority, and the people we need to swing in order to win elections don't. They react to the types of "brand identification" which the diarist speaks of.


          Mitch Gore

          Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

          by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:22:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  This is the number one issue: (none)

        They are one in the same. We are rebuilding Iraq (which we destroyed) and ignoring our own cities and citizens.

        "What luck for rulers that men do not think." - Adolf Hitler

        by Bensdad on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:59:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Energy (none)
        is the biggest issue. It includes Iraq (oil, Middle East), global warming (Katrina), the economy (gas prices, trade deficit).

        And we ARE preparing a plan:

        Building together an effective Dem energy policy (I)
        Reenergize America - A Democratic Blueprint (Second Draft)
        Energize America--A Democratic Blueprint (Third Draft)

        Energize America

        Fourth Draft soon.

        In the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)
        Read more on the European Tribune - bringing dKos to Europe

        by Jerome a Paris on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:34:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The economy (none)
        is always an issue.  The rise in heating costs will have an effect, as will the credit card minimum payments increase, interest rates rising, national debt, loss of jobs, etc. I'm not sure how long they can hold down the gas prices, but if they can't it's a big problem.  In general, ordinary people have less and less money and that's a problem.

        I believe the Dems need to do some very clear messages about how Bush has trashed our economy and exactly how it has affected them, and how it will affect their loved ones.  In turn, some specifics about the benefits that corps and the wealthiest 1% should be dished out so that it really hits home.  There's a ton of material, it just has to be presented in the right way.  

        Bush's poll numbers just rose by 5%, according to the news reports, but the newscasters are making it clear that his numbers on Iraq did not really change and that the rise is strictly due to the perceived improvements to the economy (which we know is another lie.)

        Iraq is a really, really big issue but the economy will always be at the top also.

        "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

        by joanneleon on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:03:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  IF our branding was good, then (none)
        Iraq, or energy, or screwing old people, or ripping off kids, or enriching haliburton or

        or ... or ... or

        about any of their goddam fascist policies

        ALL of those policies would be valid avenues of attack !!

        our attacks outta be relentless, they outta work together, they outta be always adapting,

        and, with people dying, I think Iraq outta be first.

        I've posted below my 25 yr. frustration with this party's message

        and guess what,

        no brand => no message = > no win elections = > no win policies.  

        it is that simple, well, unless you are 1 of the 6 or 7 figure DC bound geniuses who excel at staying in charge, spending everyone else's money, and losing.


        Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

        by rmdSeaBos on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:54:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  So far that's not true (none)
      Lastest CNN poll on who is more ethical the Repubs get 34% while Dems only get 31%.

      Splain that Lucy!

      George W. Bush - Often wrong, but never in doubt!

      by auapplemac on Sat Dec 10, 2005 at 12:53:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Message now! (4.00)
    I like what you have contributed here.  I have heard it bandied about, and I think Armando is one of them, that a party message would be silly right now because it would be trashed by election time.  That has always sounded foolish to me.  This is not a game.  I have the ability to seek out information and make decisions based on the information.  Many voters simply show up at the poll and 'impulse buy' their way down the list of republicans or democrats on the ballot.  If we want our 'shoppers' to be educated about our product, you better damn well get your advertisements out.

    Here is the analogy for the Christmas shopping season:  Do you put neat products out on the shelves and wait for customers to come to the store to begin telling them about those products; or do you put out some flyers in the Sunday paper, run an ad on television, and hope to make people come to your store for that product?

    Keep your constitution close my friends, and read it daily.

    by smokeymonkey on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:55:02 PM PST

  •  A potential brand should set up a contrast (4.00)
    "We're honest" (they're crooks)

    "Working for you" (not for lobbyists and profiteers)

  •  Not With Hillary (4.00)
    IMHO our Honorable Democratic Party can lead us to recovery, dignity, and sanity but not if Sen. Clinton is our nominee.  I believe this wonderful world of information we live in has exposed the collusion of the remaining ruling parties.  This collusion is exemplified by the actions of Clinton, Lieberman and others who may use our party.  
  •  The Republicans (3.50)
    are working on having their cake and eating it too in regards to bringing the some troops home before the '06 election. If it takes X number of troops to accomplish whatever it is they are trying to accomplish in Iraq, then by next summer they will make sure they have X+50,000 troops in Iraq. Then before the election they will start bringing the extra troops home and still the number of troops they want in Iraq.
  •  Nail on the head (4.00)
    If we are to live up to our claim that we live in the Reality-Based Community, we must all read this diary and then stop to think about what it means.  Right now, the choice that the electorate has seems to be between GOP incompetence and Dem sleaze (Thanks, Bill and Monica.)  Sorry to say it, but that BJ did the Democratic brand so much damage it may be a long time before we recover.

    I would like to suggest a new brand:

    Peace and Prosperity

    Yes, peace and prosperity.  It's what we did best in the Clinton years.  It's what we've always fought for in our long association with Labor and in the New Deal.  

    Think.  Then Act.

    Sorceress Sarah

    It is no accident that Liberty and Liberal are the same word.

    by Sorceress Sarah on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:58:03 PM PST

    •  exactly (none)
      We did it before, and we can do it again...
    •  Excellent! (none)
      You make a marketer proud.

      Want a job?  :)

    •  The Historical View (none)
      Peace and Prosperity have worked in the past, not just for Clinton, but for Woodrow Wilson, and JFK was going to use it too, if he had gotten the chance.

      Though if the Dems start using it, how do they sell it right now?  "Things were good when we had the presidency"?  Or, "Remember the Carter Years"? (sorry, Jimmy)  I think the idea is right, but how and where is it grounded?

      The middle is a ghost.

      by KazHooker on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:52:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  And Privacy.. (none)
      Keep the government out of your personal business.

      Peace, Prosperity and Privacy

      Hillary Clinton is the Yoko Ono of the Democratic Party.

      by HighSticking on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:27:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  While "Peace and (none)
      Prosperity" is good -- everytime a Democratic then adds, we did it in the Clinton years, we're back to reminding them of Monica.  (Agree that it did far more damage than DEMs have allowed themselves to see.)

      And if everything was all that good on the economic front for those at the bottom in the 1990's, why didn't they show up and vote for more of it in 2004?  

      What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away.

      by Marie on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:29:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent comment in an excellent diary, but... (none)
      We have these excellent conversations out in the open.  While keeping to our ideals of genuine discourse but also be mindful that we fight against those who who will stop at nothing (the law, public funds, ethics, etc.) to keep themselves at the top of the money/power pyramid. "Peace & Prosperity" is excellent.  Research the phrase then trademark it quickly - don't let the thugs steal it.  
    •  brands schmands (none)
      What 'brand' is Bernie Sanders?

      What 'brand' was Paul Wellstone?

      Our strengths are in our individuality, our national strengths are in our DIFFERENCES.

      Even in the same State it does not work!
      People who vote for Charlie Rangel in NY are not part of the 'same brand' as those who vote upState.

      "Brands" work great for political machines that work from the top down, where people are told what to do, how to perceive what government is.

      The diary is very well written. It plays on our hopes. It also smacks of corporatism, and I amazed there is so much support for this on Dkos.

      Has this become the Stepford Dkos?
      What is wrong with you people?


      "Symplerovus vulgaris americanus" - nasty unindicted co-conspirator. -7.63, -9.59

      by shpilk on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:58:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They each carefully built their brands. (none)
        Their brand was their vision, carefully built up with a consistent message and actions over time.

        Now, imagine a Democratic party with that.  I can.  And I can imagine all of the good things that Democratic party could accomplish instead of simply watching the Republicans do whatever they want whenever they want.

        -1.88, -6.62 I'm only a lib'rul in Oklahoma.

        by Prof Dave on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:33:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I agree, and (none)
        I wonder how many people think dailyKos is successfull because of branding?  I do think the branding is successful, now. But I do not think that that is what made the site successfull. I could have cared less about the branding parts of the site when I arrived (but now I do want a T-shirt)!
    •  Well said! (none)
      I love it!  "Peace and Prosperity."  It's got everything a good slogan needs - it's short, it's alliterative, it's easy to remember, and it's broad enough that everyone can use it.

      I say we start shopping it to the DNC and local campaigns.

      And to those who are against "branding" or "marketing" of the Dems - really, what can it hurt?

      O it is excellent to have a giant's strength: but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant. --Measure for Measure, II.2

      by RogueStage on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:42:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thugs are competent, Dems are screwups (none)

      despite katrina, despite Iraq, despite tax handouts for the rich and richest, despite no health care, despite pension rip offs, despite no job security, despite no retraining, despite the patriot act, despite the fascists like roberts and alito, ...

      despite all this, they could still win in '06.

      I hate to repeat the SCLM slime, but, the Dems are the incompetents cuz they can't capitalize worth a crap on any or all of these fiascoes.


      Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

      by rmdSeaBos on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 06:00:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thugs are competent campaigners (none)
        in fact, better than competent - but they can't govern worth a damn, because they don't really care about government. Just give them a little real power, and what do they do? Buy themselves and all their friends pink Cadillacs!

        Dems, on the other hand, are crap at campaigning, or even presenting a coherent image of themselves. Just look at the latest "Oh God, I knew this would happen if we elected Dean" spew that's coming out of them. Makes me tear my hair. And it's a shame, because Dems know how to govern. Or at least they knew, last time they had a chance to.

        -8.25,-8.36 As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it? - William Marcy Tweed

        by sidnora on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 08:08:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Really (4.00)
    Interesting thought from someone with a little bit of background here.  My area of study was Sociology with an empahsis on research design, and I have often struggled with the branding concept and what it means to the consumer.  While many of us believe the hype about branding, too often we forget what the brand delivers on.  It gets people in the door.  Why is Nike successful?  Because it brands itself with a certain image that gets people to cough up the money, but if the shoe sucked, would we continue to think it's cool?  There has been an ongoing effort by many in the corporate world, oil, pharmaceutical, and financial firms that are really trying to enhance their brand by strong "image" messages that relate loosely, at best, to the truth.  How much trust does America have in them.  

    I think a more effective strategy for Democrats in the upcoming election cycles may be to remind people what the Republican brand gets them.  Is this going negative?  I think if you focus on specifics "true" charges, the Rethugs have given us ample ammo to create an honest assessment of what they have "accomplished" and with minimal effort, we could really accentuate our brand by reminding them of fiscal repsonsibility etc.  The harder job is getting the MSM to give Democrats a shot at getting that message out.  Ad campaigns alone won't do it. It takes a unified effort by all of us to get that "negative" message out there.  

    Don't control the brand, expose the spin.  By EVERY Democrat exposing the BS every time it's spouted by the rethugs, I think many of us will be surprised by the results.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at the last six months.  Even media coverage that has slightly skewed back in our direction has given us gains that we though unimaginable a year ago.  

    Then again, we could believe what the experts at WaPo and NYT, Hardball, etc.  tell us.  Look where it's gotten us to date.  

    •  yes, expose the spin (4.00)
      but as the diarist points out -- you need to have a strong brand definition for yourself.  It can't just be "we're not them!"  

      How 'bout "Truth, Justice, and the American Way"? (Kidding) It's a positive brand that sets up some nice contrasts-- and has a movie tie-in!! (kidding again).

      •  Only half kidding.... (none)
        I was going to suggest it myself. It really is what we stand for, after all. But it would be dangerous to offer it without a Caped Crusader.

        -8.25,-8.36 As long as I count the votes, what are you going to do about it? - William Marcy Tweed

        by sidnora on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 08:12:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  'Truth' is the new 'Branding' . . . (3.80)
      and it should be absolutely toxic to Republicans.

      I completely agree; Rove has overbranded Republican branding, and the whole country is finally catching on to the essential fakery of it all.

      The Republicans are all paper and ribbons.

      How many diaries do we see here on dKos celebrating politicos with "spine" and "honesty" and "empathy" and on and on? These people are truth tellers---THAT'S why they are celebrated in our time. They recognize the serious need to see, listen, and tell the truth about it.

      Nobody survives on a diet of cotton candy and carmel corn for long . . .  Even Americans.

      •  Exactly (none)
        For Dems to succeed, they absolutely have to speak towards the essential...and that is enpowering the public and acting in the public interest as an advocate. (Not as a corporate welfare director, lobbying benefactor, etc.) Truth alone can't be the brand, of course, it's too vague. What is needed is to bring a simple message to the people, forcefully and with resolve, and they'll respond in kind. '06 is a rare chance for Dems to run as the party of reform, independence, truth and transparency. Effectively running on this, beyond the 'culture of corruption' slogan, is sorely needed.

        From a branding standpoint, what's needed is a stark contrast from the status quo. (A new, refreshing Democratic Party. Great taste, less wimpy.) For too long, many voters simply don't go out and, well, vote. Unless they are motivated to do so by a message that empowers them, that'll continue as they left out of the process.

        This doesn't simply begin and end with the Party itself but with an effective communications campaign, marketing and outreach to cultural figures. This would turn the indifferent into individuals that effectively identify with the message. Hell, if done well enough, being a voting  progressive can be the new fad.

        'You can't begin to imagine how effective the Big Lie is.' N. Mailer 'TNatD'

        by jorndorff on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:19:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Brand delivery (none)
      Much of the advertising you see is to continue delivering the brand as a means of perception management.  Think about it, who on the planet isn't famiiar with the brand promise of Coke or McDonalds. They still spend billions to "refresh" that image, it's cheaper than actually improving their product.

      To that end, much of the advertising we see is post sale, to keep ya happy. A segment of all auto advertising is for this purpose, not to get you through the door, but to stroke you, reinforce the belief that you made a good decision.

      This is going to be a tricky proposition for the Republicans, since many, many, many have lost trust and are having buyers' remorse. If they push their brand, the disconnect grows.  If they push fear, the trust further erodes.

      I think the Republican brand is in deep shit.

    •  You've got to be careful with negative branding, (none)
      it can stick to you.

      A brand and exposing the spin are apples and oranges; One's the cover of the book, the other the chapters.

      Brand Dem must be positive; otherwise it sounds like "God Bless America and no one else."

  •  Brands can also be destroyed (4.00)
    in nine to 12 months. It doesn't happen often in the corporate world  -- too many smart people like you know how to stem the bloodflow -- but I think it can happen in the political realm. Everywhere I look, the Republicans are being rebranded as uncaring, greedy, dishonest, corrupt and -- most important -- incompetent. Ane even though Democrats haven't done a very good job of pushing those negative messages, we've still seen Republican brand "equity" dropping in virtually every poll taken the past five months.

    Yes, it would be great if Democrats could agree on a positive branding message, but until we get rid of the Hillary Clintons, Liebermans, Bidens, etc. who still have way too much power in the Party, there's no way that's going to happen. So I for one have resolved to focus on attacking the Republican brand.  That's our only hope.

    •  Nail hit and driven (none)
      Totally agree with you. Except I have seen hints and allegations of solidarity like Reids comments yesterday that lead me to consider that someone has gotten at least a portion of the memo from the voters.

      There will never be any winning regardless of how bad the Republicans are without the Democratic Party uniting behind a coherent set of ethics and actions.

      Nail the crooks, to be sure. And Get a spine and a message, too.

      "Oblivious! In Denial! Dangerous!"--Nancy Pelosi on GWB. IMHO, excellent summation.

      by oofer on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:44:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    • (none)
      case in point.

      Utterly stupid service, but 'branded' brilliantly I suppose.  Don't hear too many Marketing humps bragging about that.

      •  Not really (none) imploded because they had a fucked up business modle. Their branding was great.


        Mitch Gore

        Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

        by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:29:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  not the sharpest knife, are you? (1.00)
          Thanks for repeating my original point, but not understanding it.  Talk of branding and image is pointless if there is no quality or substance behind it.  

          But don't feel bad, that ultrabasic point is lost on virtually every marketing mba I've ever met.

    •  Republicans='New' Coke? (none)
      Now that's a debacle I'd like to see.

      "Help us to save free conscience from the paw -- Of hireling wolves whose gospel is their maw." --John Milton

      by ohiolibrarian on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:14:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  See your point, but (none)
      we have to do BOTH brand Democrats and dis-brand Republicans.

      Branding Democrats should be easy, and is absolutely necessary.  "Democrats - bring 'em home alive" (referring to troops in Iraq.  "Paying too much for health insurance?  Vote Democratic next time!"  "Democrats - working for you"  "Democrats - honesty in action"  etc. etc.  Think catchphrases, like those damned commercial jingles you can't stop thinking of in meetings.

      Dis-branding Republicans is even easier, and is a necessary counterpoint to Democratic branding.  All it takes is a Democrat (or Democratic supporter) reciting "Republican _" every time they're on camera (that is, Republican corruption, Republican dishonesty, Republican deficits, Republican troop deaths, Republisan mismanagement, etc., etc., etc.).

    •  Big Crooked E (none)
      They didn't call Enron the Big Crooked E for nothing.  That was what their brand meant for many.

      So, Democrats need to brand the Republicans in a similar way to make it stick in middle America.

      Such as:  "Stealing from the poor to pay oil companies" or "Making sure that spoiled rich brats stay that way" or <insert your one-line anti-Republican brand here>.

      But Democrats do need a broad umbrella brand, even if all of the individual products (individual candidates) have their own branding efforts that extend the broad message.  

      Speaking as an Oklahoman, Democrats do need a broad brand - the idealogical purity test will drive some voter segments away in droves - but we're not going to solve the "triangulation" problem in this thread.

      Take it from me, living in an ocean of red national voters but blue local voters, strategic ambiguity about hot-button issues is much better.  You don't always have to tilt with wind-mills before you win a bigger prize.  Make the Republicans justify their hateful ways after you dislodge them from power (& money, & the bully pulpit).

      -1.88, -6.62 I'm only a lib'rul in Oklahoma.

      by Prof Dave on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:47:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Exactly Matt! (none)
      Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

      by wishingwell on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 11:40:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Is there some reason that the Republicans (4.00)
    get to brand themselves positively AND to brand the Democrats negatively?

    It must be that the so-called liberal media collaborates with the party of the rich in its branding efforts.

    Because how else are these brands formed, other than with the active collaboration of the corporate media?

    The Republicans want to cut YOUR Social Security benefits.

    by devtob on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:07:24 PM PST

    •  the complete incompetence of the Dem (none)
      "message machine"

      ya know, pelosi and reid and kerry and whoever and whatever going into whatever direction they please ...

      the media has been owned by the rich since it cost money to buy a printing press - get over it.

      WHY, when most of the creative artsy fartsy types in holywood and madison ave are flaming liberals,

      WHY can't Dems hire the people who come with "where's the beef" ??

      cuz they are incompetent, or corrupt, or both.

      btw, you can be hard working, selfless, honest, honorable and enlighted, BUT, that doesn't mean you are competent at politics.


      Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

      by rmdSeaBos on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 06:04:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  good point ! (none)
      The media helps the Republicans get their message across and helps their Brand along.

      America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

      by wishingwell on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 11:41:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps but (3.93)
    I think Tivo America is become much more Media-Savvy than previous generations, I know of people that watch network TV and have a drinking game every time a blatant "product placement" style commercial is embedded into the text of their favorite show. (watching the Apprentice or Survivor will get you very drunk indeed).

    Watching complex issues get boiled down into simple catchy slogans and brands leave me, and, I suspect much of America these days, cold.  I know I'm being manipulated by words and images of commercials and I don't much like it.  Bush has relied on it Extremely heavily of late and where has it gotten him?  To An approval rating of less than 40% is where.

    That Said I do think the Democrats need a unifying trait/Theme to become the sort of political tsunami that Newtie and the boys were back in 94.  The same theme in fact:  Honesty.  Dems need to position themselves as plain talking warriors against a culture of corruption that has enveloped this city like a plague since W took over.  

    The Republicans have made this incredibly easy for us: Both of their leaders, and a fair number of their members are facing actual or potential criminal charges;  sleazy Jack Abramoff is linked to dozens more, and They've handed out numerous sweetheart no bid contracts to well connected corporations.  As a cherry on top, no less than Three republican governors are facing serious criminal/ethics scandals of their own.

    All we need to do is tie them all together in a neat package.  To use your terminology, we need tto Re-brand the Republicans accurately.  Let people think of them as the party of corruption and scandal.  The best way I see to do that is for the next year, at least once a day a Democrat needs to introduce a resolution or make a motion in committee demanding an investigation into scandal X,Y, or Z, and force a vote on them.

    The come election season we can run commercials highlighting each Republican's voting record on these demands:

     "congressman X voted to Investigate steroids in baseball and the BCS college ranking system; but he BLOCKED investigation into 9 Billion dollars of missing Money in Iraq, Briubes paid by Defense contractors, and Fraud by the companies supposed to be supplying vital equipment to our soldiers in Iraq.  What is Congressman X hiding?"

    Knowledge is power Power Corrupts Study Hard Be Evil

    by Magorn on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:07:34 PM PST

    •  I wish I could give you a '10' (none)
      There is no way that all Dems are going to agree w/each other 100%, or even 90%, of the time.  So let us at least have a unifying theme - truth - as you said.  It works perfectly to contrast against the secrecy and corruption and scandals of the Repubs.  

      "So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we'll be called a democracy." ~Roger Baldwin

      by spyral on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:33:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Commercials (none)
      Do you make political ads for a living?  That one is golden!

      Keep your constitution close my friends, and read it daily.

      by smokeymonkey on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:49:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ehh (none)
      Watching complex issues get boiled down into simple catchy slogans and brands leave me, and, I suspect much of America these days, cold.

      That goes for you and the moderately intelligent members of our population, but what about the less savvy? Those less critical, more emotive? If our population was so actively aware, we wouldn't have such terrible voting percentages. Giving those non-voters reason to vote should be the #1 priority factored into the brand. With it, an independent, reform focus would have to follow.

      The rest I agree on totally. Re-framing is absolutely necessary. That's part of the reason why Russ Feingold is so popular around here. He's a master at re-framing issues and centering the debate with an independent mind-set.

      'You can't begin to imagine how effective the Big Lie is.' N. Mailer 'TNatD'

      by jorndorff on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:30:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry... (none)
      but if you think trying to brand Democratic politicians as "honest" is a really tall order. Not that dems are dishonest to a level which precludes it, but the cultural cliché is that all politicians, no matter their liberal/conservative stripe is crooked by the nature of the vocation. The only way you pierce that sort of specific balloon (honesty in politics) is through a endearing (idiosyncratic) presentation of an individual candidates personality and play off that stereotype in a way that is charming and "real" but not coming off like a dolt. Think Orville Redenbacher.


      Mitch Gore

      Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

      by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:36:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why have a national brand (4.00)
    for 5,000 local and regional races? National slogans only make sense for national races. Individual congressional and senatorial races focus on key issues for their constituents.
    •  Careful... (4.00)
      Don't confuse a brand with a slogan.  They're not the same.

      The slogan is the outward expression of the promise, and while it's true that we could effectively tear down the (R) brand in '06, we still can't get consumers toswitch without our brand.

      •  I work in marketing. (none)
        But my point is that no single brand fits all Democrats in local races.

        Neither the peacenik, flaming-gay city council candidate in San Francisco nor the gun-toting pope-loving state assembly candidate in West Virginia would profit from being under the "brand" of the other.

        •  We Can't Have a Common Promise? (none)
          The Rethugs do.
          •  to our advantage (none)
            the republican's common brand will work to our advantage now that that brand is soiled with bush's katrina mistakes and iraq mistakes.

            I agree - I think that, since the Democratic party is basically a bunch of alliances rather than a cohesive monolithic national party, individual branding, as much as is possible, is the way to go.

        •  How about this? (none)
          I take it that a political brand should announce a basic orientation, not a policy description, whether about the war or anything else.

          My proposal: "By the people, for the people."

          First, it epitomizes what Democrats are about. I think that it does "[fit] all Democrats in local races" and in non-local ones, too, and that all Democratic candidates would "profit" from this brand. Second, while it's completely positive, it also quietly suggests a contrast with Bush Republican philosophy. It also, for those who know its origin, suggests a comparison of Bush to Lincoln, in which Bush can't come off well; a comparison of Republicanism then to Republicanism now; and a reaching out to disillusioned Republicans by the Democratic Party. Finally, I have to believe that even if they don't know where it comes from, pretty much everybody knows this phrase, feels it as a truism, and senses its historical resonance and gravitas. All the Democrats have to do is make it their own, make it so that when people think of this phrase, they think of the Democratic Party, and vice versa.

          I lay no claim to a marketing background or expertise, but certainly this beats "Together, we can do better," or whatever the hell that lame line of the day is.

      •  Agreed, (none)
        But you have muddled the brand and the message yourself.

        I understand it was in an attempt to simplify the diary, but in politics the "brand" and the message are very close to being one in the same, and I think that is where you're own analogy, and the poster above get into trouble. All marketing is not PR, and all PR is not marketing, in common speech they may be interchangable, but in the practice of marketing, and the practice of public relations they are two animals that share some common traits and goals!

        I've killed people for less...

        by patsprouseyo on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:32:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes and No (none)
      When people think things are going well, that may be true.  But when they think things are going poorly - like now - I disagree.

      That's why we had 1980 and 1994.

      lib-er-al: Open to new ideas for progress; tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; not limited to or by established, orthodox or authoritarian attitudes.

      by DCescapee on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:56:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know much about branding ... (4.00)
    ... but it seems that concerning Iraq we Democrats have a problem of long-term branding and short-term branding. Our long-term branding is the public perception that Democrats are weaker on national security and defense. Our short-term branding is that at present we offer nothing but criticism about Iraq. The lack of a unified positive message on Iraq seems to amplify the damage caused by the long-term branding. It seems that we need to develop a unified forward-looking and optimistic message right away (without bending the truth), and then have it espoused and defended by people with credibility on national security and defense, that is, if we are to have any chance of changing the negative branding we now enjoy with the public when it comes to Iraq and other national security matters. Another problem on national security and defense is that much of our party sees our long-term branding differently than the general public sees it, or fails to take it into account at all, making the development of meaningful short-term branding difficult to accomplish.
  •  Branding and Kerry (3.80)
    John Kerry tried to brand himself as the military hero that will protect the nation and bring resolution to the war in Iraq. This worked in the primaries to get him nominated.

    In the general election he was rebranded as a fake, or Swiftboated as we say. The unbelievable irony is that bush was the fake and Kerry was the real thing, but their marketing program was effective enough to make the point ...... AND Kerry did not fight back in a timely fashion.

    Here's my point, the Democrats must create a brand identity and defend it. The Republicons have telegraphed their plan to counter this, that is, that there is no unified Democratic position. Democrats must be prepared to protect their brand and produce a unified Democratic position ...hint, hint.

    •  I'm sorry... (none)
      ...Kerry was certified but he wasn't "real" or "authentic".  And by certified I dont' mean certifiable or crazy.  Everything he presented about himself could be backed up with documentation and evidence, but that didn't make him a war "hero".  He was strong but not bold, he was intellegent but not smart, he was careful but not prudent.

      He was far too dignified and not nearly outraged enough.

      If that makes ANY sense whatsoever.  

      The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

      by DawnG on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:44:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    Democrats can't wait for Republicans to fall on their faces. They've got to come up with an alternative and do something about it!

    Get up off your lazy butts and do something, dammit!

    "The collapse of confidence in the Republican leadership is not enough to elect Democratic leadership." -Dean

    by MarionCountyDemocrat on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:14:58 PM PST

  •  Respectfully disagree (3.66)
    You assume that voters regard a vote against their Senator or Congressperson as a brand switch.  I don't believe that.  I think your analysis would apply and will apply in 08.  But, I think most voters will, if provoked, vote against their Congressperson without having strong feelings one way or another about the person they are actually voting for.  Sometimes they just want to "throw the bums out."  Most voters have a pretty strong emotional attachment (positive or negative) to the President.  Hence, the logic of switching brands comes into play.  But, Congress is much more faceless and nameless to most voters.  In fact, voting against a Republican gives voters an opportunity to send a message to Bush WITHOUT feeling like they are switching brands.

    Of course, the sooner Democrats build a brand the better.  But, I don't think that's possible in 9 to 12 months (I'm not even sure it can happen by 2008).  And, I still think we're going to take the House in 06.

    •  And I (3.80)
      willre spectfully disagree with you.  Recent experience has taught me that if we don't give them something to vote for, then they simply won't vote at all, no matter how dissatisfied they are with the crook in office.

      The Ahhnuld election aside, people don't vote against something, they vote for something.  If you don't give them a reason, they'll just stay home.

      Sorceress Sarah

      It is no accident that Liberty and Liberal are the same word.

      by Sorceress Sarah on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:42:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why put Ahnuld aside? (none)
        Voters' disgust with Congress is at record levels.  Record numbers of voters say that they want to vote against their representatives.  06 is not a business as usual election cycle.  There are a lot of incumbent Rs who can be defeated by well funded, reasonably competent Ds.  And, the Ds are doing an excellent job of recruiting those folks.  And, if people don't vote against something, why is negative advertising so prevalent and effective?

        I believe we need to relentlessly work on branding Republicans as corrupt.  It should not be hard to do.  I think we can take the House in 06 and pick up 4 to 5 seats in the Senate.  Meantime, work in the background to build the Democratic brand.  So far, sad to say, I don't think anyone's been able to articulate it.  So, its a long term project.  No time to waste, I agree.  But, let's accept the fact that it will take time.  Hopefully, we can get there by 2008, because then I think the lack of a brand WILL be a huge handicap.

        •  But D and R disapproval (none)
          are almost on the level with each other in the toilet. It simply doesn't translate that "throw the bums out" translates to anything at the voting booth. Witness the historical evidence of incumbency return, even during "revolutions" ala Gingrich.


          Mitch Gore

          Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

          by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:41:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  But, as someone pointed out ... (none)
            here at DKos (sorry, can't remember who), the reason for the comparable disapproval rates is that Ds give low approval ratings to their own Democratic representatives.  And, as that poster pointed out, those same folks who don't approve of their Democratic rep, will still vote for him or her.

            And, yes, we will see 90%+ of incumbents return.  We just need to make sure we reelect about 6% more than the Rs (94% vs. 88% for example).  That would give us a 12 seat pickup ... if we do that, we would pick up the other seats we need from open races.

            Its really pretty simple.  Voters see the corruption and it disgusts them.  Corruption is not yet synonymous with Republican ... but in 11 months it can be.

          •  And by the way ... (none)
            I'm not saying we shouldn't have a unified Democratic agenda.  We should and we probably need to.  But, that's WAY different from branding.  We can come up with a unified agenda (ethics reform, fiscal reform, healthcare ... for example) in time for 06.  Rebranding just ain't gonna happen that quickly.  And, it doesn't need to.
  •  Honesty, Competence, Security eom (none)
    •  "Honesty, Competence, Security eom" (none)
      I think you've got it!

      We do have honest politicians who speak from the heart and who work hard.

      But honesty doesn't insure competence.

      The Republicans have been dishonest and have allowed politics to drive policy.
      And I think people are starting to see through them.

      But competence is critical. And here I think the Democratic Party better find out who in their ranks knows what the f... they're talking about regarding issues of importance. There is no point screaming at each other from across an ideological divide. We need leaders/people with good critical thinking and good values who can understand our problems and articulate our goals and HOW WE ACHIEVE THESE GOALS. Because it's not enough to have your heart in the right place. That is why I've been wearing out my welcome on these boards screaming for people to please please take a close look at General Wesley Clark. Fine critical thinking, intellectual honesty and a heart in the right place. He never would have gone to Iraq. He cares about the troops and innocent people getting killed and he cares about this country's well being and credibility. He is perhaps our best expert on Iraq and will not propose political solutions but solutions that he believes will work. He is currently, I believe, offering his expertise to Democratic members of congress, like Senator Levin, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee (I read that somewhere).


      When the Democratic Party says

  •  ok. well. what do you suggest then? (none)
    me, I'm inclined to throw my lot in with Howard and Harry, but, since they're disagreeing, what do we say?  The Democratic Party is the Party of Free Will and Individuality?  Works for me, but will it play in Idaho?

    -8.75;-5.28. But it don't mean nuttin if you don't put your money where your mouth is

    by ultrageek on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:16:43 PM PST

    •  No (4.00)
      Even people in Idaho (like me) know that a gift-wrapped turd is still a turd. Branding is just the wrapping paper, you need to change the gift.
    •  I Think It Will... (none)
      K, I know that I may get some flack from other Idahoans on this but I think the new Democratic model will work for Idaho.

      The base of the (voting) Idaho GOP is made up of people who self identify as Libertarian more than Republican (why? I don't know). Moreover the Western Democrat philosophy is more closely tied to Libertarian ideals then the Eastern Democratic philosophy.

      I think that if Idahoans can get the message they will lean towards it. Look at some of the great Democrats that came out of Idaho; Andrus and Church. They were huge, and Idahoans supported them.

      Idahoans don't like big spenders and they sure as hell don't like big government, but they are too stupid to put a check next to a name that doesn't have an "R" next too it.

      We need to change that, we need to let them know that Otter is perhaps the worst person to be the new governor of Idaho, we need to get the message across about what Otter has done, and what Brady can do for us.

      As this diarist so eloquently pointed out; it is about the image, and it is about the message.  

    •  Who said Harry and Howard are disagreeing? (none)
      You read too much into the article.  I will bet you that Dean said, "yes sir if it helps us win" in response to Reid's request.

      If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will.

      by Yoshimi on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:23:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's positioning that wins- brands are positioned (none)
    As I wrote in my first diary.

    The 'New and Improved' Bush brand - 'Victory' is easy to position against.  
    Fact is Bush's Victory is an impossible sell when 60% of the market (voters) think it's a mistake to have gone into Iraq.  
    The strategic marketing attack is to position against Bush.  
    As I've said in other comments the strongest argument to make right now is not Dean's we can't win....but rather to state that Bush has ALREADY lost Iraq.  One can't cut and run from something that is already lost.  
    Sorry a strategic marketing approach can crush the RepublicSCUMS in 06.  But the Dems have show little skill in developing or deploying one.  

  •  Dead on. (4.00)
    I am in Advertising as well. It's all perception. You don't even need a good product as long as everyone thinks your product is great. Bush has proven this time and again.

    The 2004 election was a perfect example. Did Bush get hammered because he was a deserter from a cushie ANG stint? Nope. They turned it into a fake purple heart debate on Kerry.

    Bush, Cheny, Condi, Rummy, Rove, All of them promised that if you reelected Georgie-Boy that we'd all be safe. It worked. He got the vote and Katrina unveiled the reality of his leadership. All about perception.

    Currently the repukes and their minions are using the Dems lack of unity on a message to dilute any and all of the recent negative Bush numbers. And it's working. His poll numbers have stabilized and all of the shit Bush has pulled this year is slowly turning to Bush positives in the House and Senate. He got his tax cuts for the rich, cuts in budget social programs, Positive economic numbers.

    Everything Rippe states here is dead on correct.

    What do our Dem leaders have to sell? Crappy war? Raging deficet? Republican corruption? Indictments? Nation no safer since 911? So what?!!! There's no perceived benefit to the voter to switch to the Dem vote.

    •  we may buy it (4.00)
      with a great wrapper and branding,

      but if it is a dud, we will excahnge it for something that works.

      I dont watch TV, dont see much branding, I buy what works and so do most people i know.

      perhaps liberals are impervious to branding and that is why we stick to the dems?

      perhaps we need to brand to sway repubs to our side - perhaps they are suseptible to branding  - like a baby likes shiney clinky things - oooh.

      ALL LIFE on this planet is as deserving as your child's.

      by leftout on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:46:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You may be (none)
        Putting too much faith in consumer behavior.

        A bad brand cannot sell a good product, but a good brand can sell a bad one...time and again.

        •  I put faith in my behavior (none)
          and this is how I shop.

          I do not agree that Reps are a good brand or Dems a bad one, nor do I think everyone thinks this is so.

          We spend so much time trashing Dems, repubs need not bother. I believe Dems are by far the superior brand.

          I cannot help it if some my fellow citizens (not consumers) are not as bright to figure this out for themselves.

          Repubs getting the majority to me means that we have more dumb people in the US than smart.

          ALL LIFE on this planet is as deserving as your child's.

          by leftout on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:11:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes you can. (none)
            I cannot help it if some my fellow citizens (not consumers) are not as bright to figure this out for themselves.

            Help them understand.  That means having conversations with people on the right.

            If you take yourself too seriously, no one else will.

            by Yoshimi on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:25:39 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  progressive branding (3.75)
    I have a fundamental problem with the message in this diary.
    The big current issue for the Democrats is not about branding.
    Branding is what you do after you have your product defined, and after you have a clear idea of the values frame within which that product must operate.
    If all the Dems do is see this as a branding issue, then we can sit back and watch as the Democratic Party goes through the same journey as the mythical toy company in the UPS adverts (the one with the punchline "you have an integrated logistics process....they have - a new ad agency").
    The Dems have to first define their framing and create new frames within which they can control debate. Currently, there are lots of possible frames out there, but no coherence to their use and communication. Once the framing is sorted out, then brand advertising becomes a powerful tool of communication and re-inforcement.
    Absent the correct framing of core values, branding will simply be a re-run of the idea of "politics as marketing", where we assemble focus groups, poll them and then try building messages that offend the fewest people. That approach won't work aginst the current unified Republican framing.

    Irving Progressive

    •  may be the same idea (none)
      A good "brand" will not salvage a bad product, in fact the mismatch between brand and product will invite ridicule...So clearly attention to the product matters.

      What you call the "frame" does matter...but the brand reinforces that frame. So whether you call it framing or branding -- it needs to happen in order for the Dems to communicate "why us rather than the other guys". It seems to me that the diarist is calling for that rather than some sloganeering.  

  •  I know what you've been reading (none)
    Someone's been reading The Culting of Brands.  
  •  Thanks Rippe, (none)
    for putting it so succinctly.

    This is exactly one issue I've been thinking a lot about lately.

    Hopefully the Dem leadership will get this message and understand its importance to them, and the country.

  •  Quite right, however (none)
    let's not forget the brand penetration that 3 years of our adventures in the Middle East have resulted in. Growing unease, distate, and disgust in the prosecution of the war, and a sense of "anybody but Republicans."

    Also the standard branding analogy is a bit strained in that Pepsi does not have to fight the additional hurdle of every advertising outlet being secretly run or influenced by a Coke partisan.

    Your comments about a unified message are great, but I don't think the situation is so dire. "Opposition to Worthless Republican Policies" may be enough of a branding message to penetrate in time to allow a Dem victory.

  •  Despair (none)
    It's sad, but I don't trust the democrats can be brazen enough to present a vision/promise/brand that will unite the various factions of the party.  Certainly Iraq, with its corporate malfeasence, pre-war lies, torture abuse, and oil motivations there are plenty of goodies for human rights activists, government reformers, environmentalists, and human rights activists and so on to grab onto . . . but the Dems have to find the courage to go up against the powers that be in order to form that message for the votes.  It will be interesting to see if they go for the grassroots there waiting, or play it cool.
    I mean jeez, look at Mess-O-potamia.  Great brand. John Stewart for prez, '08.
  •  I'm afraid you are correct. (4.00)
    Unfortunately, you are correct.  I know many people who voted for Bush and still support their decision.  Why?? Because they did not "trust" Kerry.  My thought is "but you trust Bush?"  I now realize that it's not that they trust Bush, they just know what they are getting.  Fear tactics worked well this year and fear of the unknown prevalent.  I have no idea how to change this.  The GOP has the greatest PR team in the world working for them.  The crap they are able to sell is unbelievable.
  •  How did this diary make the rec list? (none)
    Sorry to be contrarian, but this diary ought to get the master of the obvious award.

    OK, so we need a unified message.  Hasn't that been discussed ad nauseum on this website?  

    Is there anyone who doesn't agree that we need a brand/unified message.

    All this diary is repeat something we all already know and have been discussing for a long time.

    Is the problem that the diarist is dissecting that Democrats don't even know they need a brand?  Because if that's the premise, I completely disagree.  We all know we need one and as I understand it, there's been a lot of discussion among Democratic leaders about what that bumper sticker brand ought to be.  

    Thus, I would suggest the diarist has it wrong.  The problem isn't that we don't know we need a brand, it's that we can't agree on one.

    Think about it -- everytime we hear a suggestion of a slogan or even a broader message or set of principles, this website is filled with people trashing it.  They are angry that this or that "core" issue is left out.  They claim it's too specific or they claim it's too vague, but they find something to carp about.

    So in my opinion, simply saying "we need a brand" isn't reccomend-worthy because it doesn't advance the true discussion at all -- how do we get rank and file Democrats to agree on a brand?

    •  Not the rank and file ... (none)
      ...Democrats that need to be convinced, but rather the elected Dems. And, as we've seen, it doesn't matter if you have a unified brand, the Republicans will apply a brand tag to the whole party based on the statements of one or two members of the party. Right now, they're testing an old one: "white-flag Democrats" based on the comments of Dean and Murtha.
      •  OK then (none)
        The question is how to we get Democratic leaders to agree on a brand?  This diary doesn't advance that question at all.  It just tells us we need a brand.  Big deal -- everyone herer already knows that.

        By the way, I don't entirely agree with your premise.  I think that even if the Democratic leadership of the House, Senate, Governorships, State Legislatures, and Dean at the DNC came together to agree on a unified brand/message, the immediate reaction here would be to criticize it.  Do you really think we'd all just agree on branding the party according to whatever the leadership agreed on?  

      •  Promise keepers (none)
        White flags, yellow ribbons, or wrapped in Old Glory.  Dems promise to wait till Murtha+12. "Bring em home - Election '06".  A timetable we can agree on. By then, it'll be worse or better, either way it's time to draw down. (They're gonna do it anyway, Dem's made em do it.)  

        "We've got work to do"  Dems promise to Spend it at home. Jobs, jobs, jobs, that won't be outsourced.

        Intelligent design is an insult to intelligence.
        Democrats promise to educate based upon ability, not income. If you've got the grades, we promise to keep you in school.

        The global war of competition. National problems need national leadership. Chinese and Indian government support their industry. Our industry shouldn't go into battle unarmed.  

        Dems promise freedom to worship. Government may need god's help; but god doesn't need government help. Separate but equal, if you like. Dems promise that government will never interfere with god by picking and choosing a religion for anyone.

        Dems promise "No new tax cuts". It's time for new balance. "Starve the Beast" is no answer to Katrina and her sisters. Individual responsibility and teamwork can co-exist. Good government, which is "hard work", aims to concentrate community resources on community goals.

    •  the diarist (none)
      had a subliminal message saying something about recommending the diary  - it was strategically placed to work on our unconscious and it worked.

      ALL LIFE on this planet is as deserving as your child's.

      by leftout on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:52:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Apply your observation (none)
        Apply your observation to the diarist's election theory.

        Did 50% or more of the reader's vote by recommending the diary? What, are there now 70,000 registered members on this site? The number of recommends doesn't even come close to market saturation. I'd say it didn't work.

    •  Actually (none)
      There's been a lot of disagreement on this issue.  If we agreed, we wouldn't be rushing out in support of every contradicting sound bite.
      •  By whom? (none)
        Please point me to some people who have said we don't need a brand or a unified message?  

        I'd like to see some evidence to back up a claim that, if true, I would find very surprising.

    •  Recommended (none)
      I recommended this diary because I think it contributes something different to the discussion.  It seems to explain what we weren't able to very well in this front page diary.  If we have the most visited blog site on the web, if we have truth and compassion behind us, if our opponents are obviously corrupt and lie frequently, why the hell are we ruled by Republicans?  House, Senate, Executive, Governors, most state legislatures.  Up and down the ticket, the Republicans are known to stand for something.  This is a something that I find completely repulsive, but that is not the point.  I drink Pepsi, I hate Coke.  I drink Miller over Budweiser every day.  But I still go to McDonald's even though there is a Wendy's that is closer.  Why?  I actually care what I drink.  I don't much care what I eat as long as I know what I'm getting.  (Plus, they have the best dollar menu.)

      So the diarist's point is not that Democrats need to realize they need a brand.  It is to point out the power of branding and how and why that power has worked for the GOP.

      Keep your constitution close my friends, and read it daily.

      by smokeymonkey on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:59:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •   I recommended (none)
      Because not only does the diarist discuss the branding issue, but also gives some "insider" info that I haven't seen in previous discussions.
      "9-12 months" for the brand to seep in.  We have known we need a brand for '06.  This diary highlights the urgency of a brand NOW!
      Can't wait till the new year.
      Plus he included an action in the diary: it will be sent to the democratic leadership.  Who else has shown their willingness to bring diaries to the next step?
    •  We have a brand (4.00)
      We just haven't found a way to "sell" it to the rest of the country. Social justice, fair pay, a clean environment, a solid economy, a balanced budget, even national security. We've got plenty of "brands", and I think they're damn good ones. The problem is that we haven't come up with an effective way to make this clear to non-liberal Democrats.

      Nor--more importantly I think--have we found a way to debunk the label that the right has effectively branded us with as the party of "feel-good tree-hugging latte-drinking elitist tax and spend appeasing liberals". This label has been absolutely devastating, making possible the fairly easy defeat of Democrats like Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry, and the election of empty suit corporate shills like Reagan and the Bushes.

      For whatever reasons, over the past 25 years the country has come to view predominantly liberal brands as "bad", and predominantly conservative brands as "good", with corresponding results at the ballot box. Part of this, I think, is because we've simply been a lot less competent as "selling" our already established brands than the right.

      For example, negotiating with adversaries (while making it quite clear that we have the military might and willingness to use it if necessary to back up our negotiating position) has somehow been tainted as liberal and weak, while "shoot first and don't bother asking questions later" has somehow been successfully sold as conservative and good. To a large extent, this has happened because we liberals have allowed conservatives to control the "selling" of these positions (or their "framing", to take the Lakoffian position).

      We've already got the right values and "brands". We just have to come up with far more aggressive and effective ways of selling them to the public. This goes well beyond slogans and talking points.

      •  Feckless and flaccid (none)
        The white flag commercial is case in point. Picture worth 100 words.  

        Where was the bloody rags or waterboarding commercial when GOP torture rooms surfaced?  Rummy's government issue glow sticks after Abu Gariab?

        When Scooter was indicted where were the pictures of CIA agent Terry Anderson multilated by terrorists?

        How bout KKK or brownshirts pictures when the Kansas university professor was kicked around.

        When journalists were found out to be taking government bribes, why not show real journalists beheaded collecting real news.

        Dems live up their image and try to talk their way through a knife fight. It ain't beanbag.  Who the hell would trust them when the shit hits the fan. Kill or be killed. Future of the country depends upon exterminating these neocons.

        •  Understandable sentiment, but wrong reaction (none)
          "Kill or be killed. Future of the country depends upon exterminating these neocons."

          I respectfully disagree. Yes, of course, these people are, at best, misguided idiots who need to be defanged and defrocked, and, at worst--and unfortunately probably far more likely--sheer misanthropic scum who deserve to be dethroned, debunked and in some cases imprisoned.

          But adopting the very tactics of the people we need to take out is not the way to go about this. We can't let ourselves sink or be taken down to their level, which would make us just as bad--if not worse, since we should know better. There are other, better ways to take them out.

          First, we need to shine a bright and steady light on them that clearly reveals their incompetence, dishonesty and corruption. What we on the left have seen for years has not been so obvious to the rest of the country. But while it's hard to prove their evil intent, it's a lot easier to demonstrate dubious action and noxious effect. Katrina, Iraq and the ongoing corruption and security scandals have proven this to the wider public, and we need to keep attention focused on this.

          And second, we need to show why Democrats would do better. Not why we ARE better, which is hard to show absent the chance to prove it, but why we're simply better-equipped to do a better job of running government, due to our fairer and more practical solutions to the kinds of problems most voters can relate to, e.g. jobs, health care, national security, education, etc. We already have such solutions, for the most part. We simply need to find a way to "sell" them more convincingly to the public, which for some reason we haven't so far.

          This doesn't need to be a bloodbath. We can purge the country of these cretins and take their place at the helm of government without having to become like them. The ironic thing about the radical right is that they have become the very things they set out to eliminate, e.g. big government practitioners, fiscally irresponsible, torturing religious fundamentalists, intruders into peoples' private lives and deniers of basic civil liberties. We can't let ourselves take the same path. It will destroy us.

          •  Let the dogs out. (none)
            I am not sure I deserve your respect.

            I don't think you understand the rules. "Fight nice" is not their way. Lee Atwater did begat Karl Rove.   Willy Horton to seeding the sewers with homo hate. Reagan went to PhiladelphiaMiss for states rights, Bush to speak at BobJonesU. Who knows what they said, the symbol blooms and multiplies.

            If a "white flag democrat" commercial can make the network, why can't equally visceral images be produced from some democratic skunk works?  They dis-enfranchised voters in the Ohio polling booths, I'm talking some dirty tricks in the editing room.  

            I'm not ready for assasinations. But were in a meme war.  Joe Public is bathed every night in images from the tube.  Reasoned discussions are so 20th century.  

            •  You'll have to find out the hard way (none)
              that your proposed approach might be enticing and could even work in the short-term, but it's a short-cut that will only backfire in the long term. Are you actually proposing that we start lying and baiting and smearing the way that they have, AND that this is the ONLY way to take them down? That would be the death of the Democratic party.

              Negative politics works, obviously. Republicans have used it successfully for years. But ONLY, I contend, because one, Democrats set themselves up for it by being unappealing, incompetent and even corrupt, two, they rarely defended themselves effectively when attacked, even when they were absolutely justified in doing so, and three, they failed to offer clearly superior candidates and policies and then market them effectively.

              Look at Kerry. Not necessarily the most competent and accomplished Democrat we could have nominated, but not the worst, either, and certainly far more so than GWB was in every criteria that actually mattered when it came to being president, if one honestly compared the two. Yet during the election he came across as lifeless and indecisive to most voters (including not a few who ended up voting for him), refused to defend himself from Swift Boat attacks even though they were obvious lies, and did a horrible job of explaining why his policies would be better than Bush's. He would almost certainly have been a better president than Bush, but he was a terrible candidate, which is why he lost. Had he also decided to go negative, he would have fared even worse, I suspect.

              We don't lose simply because Republicans are so good at thuggush politics. We lose because we let them get away with it without offering a clearly superior alternative. Defending oneself against despicable tactics does not require that one adopt them oneself. That would be like justifying torture against terrorists. There is a difference between being aggressive and being a thug.

              •  Respond to a video with an essay? (none)
                I don't think I am making the high road/low road argument.

                Though I am not against mild distortions per se, I am prepared to call a spade a spade.  

                When Scooter and Rove out an agent, people can die. Die horribly sometimes. To make that point you don't use 1000 words; but a picture.  Attention spans are short; hit the hot button    

                When homosexuals are villified, some are hogtied to fences in Montana.   Show me...

                When Condi says we don't torture, lets review the AbuGraib photos, including the dead guy on ice.

                The white-flag democrats video is not a distortion, it visually conveys what has be said verbally. Democrats are cut-n-run cowards. It could be responded to verbally; but it needs video backup.  

                What makes the white flag video thuggery, makes it brutal; is that it attacks a defenseless target. Dems don't fight back.  Turn the other cheek is not what we want from our leaders.  

                You don't respond to a video with an essay.  Maybe low brow targets; but they require sophisticated operators with a willingness to use the tools, and make new rules. You have to reach the voter through his channel.

                •  This is different (none)
                  I was responding to your "Kill or be killed" approach, which I believe is neither necessary nor wise, as it can only backfire and drag us all down to their level, thereby destroying the moral credibility we need in order to believe that we're better than them (for some reason I keep thinking of Star Wars III even though I usually hate using pop culture references). I'm referring to smearing basically decent people whom we happen to disagree with and who are on the other side, or intimidating voters, or lying to the press and public. I want nothing to do with any of that, even if it results in Democratic victories. We'll just end up being as despicable as today's GOP.

                  But if you're just talking about mounting a VERY aggressive defense of Democratic, liberal and progressive values, policies and leaders in response to right-wing attacks and smears, via whatever media platform seems appropriate at the time, then sure, I'm all with you. The right has been allowed to get away with its coded racist, homophobic, sexist and classist agenda for way too long, and that's got to stop.

                  "Family Values" is just a coded way of saying that white, god-fearing, straight middle Americans who work and shop at WalMart are the real Americans, and everyone else is not. We've absolutely got to call them on that, each and every time they try to pull this crap. Nor do I have a problem with "taking down" corrupt and hypocritical right-wing leaders like DeLay or Bush, by shining a bright light on them and letting the public know who they really are.

                  But aggressive and effective does not require stooping to their level, just as defeating terrorists doesn't require stooping down to THEIR level (an irony that appears to be forever lost on the right). That's all that I was saying.

  •  We need a Contract With America (none)
    I have been saying this for quite some time now.

    Gingrich produced one about a month before the 1994 congressional elections. It produced a unifed message for a minority party that did not have the White House (sound familiar?).

    It was a statement of principles -- a manifesto. And it worked. The conventional wisdom says that voters were angry at the arrogance of Democratic congressional leaders and Clinton's early stumbles. I don't buy that entirely. I think they responded to a cohesive and positive platform. The fact that they subsequently ignored all those promises is another matter entirely.

    What we need is our own manifesto -- a broad statement of principles that most, if not all, Democratic candidates can sign on to.

    And I see no reason why such a manifesto has to be produced by the DNC. The blogosphere can do it just fine.

    •  WishyWashy FlipFlop Need not Apply (none)
      Put it in writing. That's what leaders do.

      Cronkite suggested a Dem convention prior to 08.  

      The blogo-manifesto or online convention could be a KOS creation.  A platform in waiting for the next national convention.  Maybe committees of kosaholics who excrete positon papers on various topics. Isn't that what left wing think tanks and political animals are doing 24-7? Perhaps Kos allstars, you know who you are, who lay it down.

      Maybe a blogo-Luther who nails it, to the virtual door.

      I heard Hillary was suported a ban on flag burning. Put her down for that one.


  •  I prefer Pepsi (none)
    However, I agree with much of your analysis.  I know quite a few Repbulican voters who do not seem to have thought out the consequences of their political choices at all.  They automatically assume, for instance, that someone who is pro-gun has their best interests at heart on other issues when nothing could be further from the truth.  They are buying the packaging without looking what is in the box.  Their support of the war in Iraq is much the same - not really looking at the substance or context - and buying the spin.  The culture of consumption and sound byte advertising has seriously affected America's ability to actually assess anything.

    Theocracy is tyranny

    by Druidica on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:33:03 PM PST

  •  Anyone see the movie "Being There"? (none)
    i think marketing that keeps it simple, clean and polite. Maybe some gardening analogies would go a long way... the soil is getting tired and full of overgrown weeds, the roots are rotten, the herbs have bloomed... you get the idea.  Take the rototiller to it and plant fresh new growth.  Netroots as a word has appeal because everyone likes the idea of new life and hope.
  •  marketting...branding.. (4.00)
    I dispair at the thought that the citizens of America are worth nothing more than what politicians can SELL them into voting for.  Have we really sunk so low as a country that we have to "market" to voters?  What next?  our own cute little mascot that shows up in commercials singing little jingles about the joys of universal health care?  Am I going to buy a happy meal from McDonalds with the official democratic party plush toys?  Am I going to go to a movie with ads for "Joe the donkey" tells us "say no to tax cuts"?

    I'm freaking sick and tired of people selling me something!  

    The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

    by DawnG on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:35:03 PM PST

    •  Ideally (none)
      the brand will communicate something meaningful and informative about the choice in what really is a competition for the voter's time and attention.  Having a brand identity is a shortcut that then allows the ensuing conversation to take place on an understood basis ---
      You go to McDs because you expect fast food, clean restrooms, and no hassle if your kids spill their drinks on the floor.
      You buy Land's End products because you know they are generally well-made and not embarassing to wear and if you don't like it you can send it back with no hassle at all

      That's not the same thing as a marketing campaign with plush donkeys, nifty giveaways, scratch-off tickets.

    •  Sorry DawnG but (4.00)
      everything we hear, see, read has become some form of marketing. CNN and NBC have slogans. When you go into a supermarket, the isles are set up and designed by marketers. No more advertising--goodbye newspapers, TV, Cable.

      The people who create a (desire) for the product, generally do much better than those that create the product itself.

      That's the unfortunately reality of our modern society.

      •  yeah and I still dont' have to like it. (4.00)
        There are terabytes of data on how to manipulate a product, a situation, a store, whatever and get people to buy it.  There are probably people in this world who could sell human feces as a weight loss aid. But no matter what the promises, or the packaging or the money back guarentee, you're still eating shit.

        I'm tired of being marketted to.  I'm tired of "introductary offers" and "new and improved".  I am tired of empty promises. I am tired of sparkly illusions and special camera filters.  I'm tired of flashy logos and dramatizations in 3D CGI.  I'm tired of classic songs being used to sell pickup trucks and beer.  I'm tired of being told what to think and not given any facts to make up my own mind.

        Maybe it's just me.  Maybe I'm different.  Maybe the world really wants a larger big gulp and low-carb twinkies.  I am just tired of it.

        The GOP Love the soldiers like they love children: Seen but not heard.

        by DawnG on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:04:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bill Hicks (none)
          "Ahh, Bill going after the anti-marketing dollar.  That's a huge market."

          Seriously though, I want every Dem candidate to get up on the podium once a day and recite this rant (and perhaps link it up a little more directly to BushCo and Fox News).  The anti-marketing dollar is a huge market.  Especially right now, with all the anger and resentment that the GOP has fostered in the past year, I think this notion would resonate with people.  Did anyone read the slate column about the "Waking Life" style Schwab TV ads?  It's based on the same premise of appealing to investor frustration and anger.  And the stock market has tracked pretty closely to our political environment in the past 4 years--stagnant, stuck in a rut, people all watching, waiting to see if it will start moving, getting frustrated with the spinning wheels, and the bad information they get from the "experts" who they don't trust anymore (in politics I guess that's the press).  

      •  Only because you made it so (none)
        The fact that we've let con men take over our companies and our country doesn't make it something to aspire to for our party.

        The desire to sell sizzle instead of steak is why there is a concerted effort to "dumb-down" the general population. If you keep them dumb enough, they won't see through your marketing bullshit.

        Perhaps you see hastening that process as OK as long as your "product" gets elected. I don't.

        We've become a country where the only value we see in anything is in its ability to sell something else, in a giant delusional pyramid scheme. The fact that now we're being sold the idea of "branding" just cracks me up. Sure, it was all played nicely to elect Bush, but when it came time to deliver, there wan't anything there to deliver, just the ability to continue pushing more "branding" messages.

        Maybe you, and the diarist, think it's OK to push your handwaving messages without actually delivering anything. I don't.

        The pyramid is going to collapse--as it did in New Orleans--only more dramatically. If you're lucky, you con men will only be tarred and feathered, like snakeoil salesmen of the past. In a more just society, you'll find yourself up against a wall.

        "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." - Bertrand Russell

        by Mad Dog Rackham on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:44:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Branding doesn't mean false advertising (none)
          or being a con man. That is a false perception of what is being discussed here, that we must say whatever it takes ot make the sale. That's not it.


          Mitch Gore

          Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

          by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:51:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's see.... (none)
            The discussion seems to me to be about "branding" being more important than content.

            In other words, what ever it takes to make the sale.

            How "branding" avoided being discredited by its utter and total failure in the 90's I don't understand. Remember, wasn't about making a profit, it was about "building a brand." And supposedly you can always expand a good brand, but how many Kodak batteries or Polaroid video tapes did anyone ever buy?

            "Branding" looks great when you pick and choose examples with hindsight. It fails miserably when you try to use it for guidance. It's con men trying to get you to finance the next con.

            It used to be called--before the consultants got ahold of it--"reputation". And you build that after you produce the product, not before.

            "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." - Bertrand Russell

            by Mad Dog Rackham on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 06:32:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not just branding and content (none)
              but branding and experience. I don't know branding, I'm not into marketing, but it seems to me those that are successful at it (whatever it is) don't brand product, don't brand content. Look at Nike, you often don't see a damn shoe in their ads. They brand an experience, what it IS to be a NIke shoe wearer. What IS it to be a progressive? What's that experience? What's that mean? How can we make people want that experience?
            • didn't go bust (none)
              becuase of brand it went under becaue it had a shitty buisness model. Don't confuse branding with lack of content.


              Mitch Gore

              Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

              by Lestatdelc on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 10:59:50 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think we're talking in circles (none)
       did indeed have a shitty business model. I used to order 50 lb bags of dog food, cheaper than at the supermarket, and they threw in free shipping. Of course that's insane.

                So how did they get anyone to invest in such madness?

                Easy. The branding consultants told them that the business model didn't matter. It was all about building a brand. Once that was established, then they could use it to start making a profit, since no one else would have such a great brand.

                This all sounds very familiar, as we're being told by (the same?) branding consultants that what Democrats need is a good brand. Forget the content, forget the real differences that should be worked out, not papered over. Just get a brand and all will be OK.

                You're getting played.

                FDR didn't build a 30-year coalition by establishing a brand, he did it by making sure that everyone in that coalition was getting something, or at least thought they were. It fell apart once some groups realized they hadn't gotten much lately.

                The Republicans are reaching the end of their 30-year run (since Reagan in 1980). They did it by creating a coalition where everyone got something. It's falling apart because some groups (the religious right) are feeling slighted.

                How about less "branding" and a little more work on getting our leaders to quit slamming other parts of the party? It's leadership we need, not the latest marketing fad.

                "What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite." - Bertrand Russell

                by Mad Dog Rackham on Sat Dec 10, 2005 at 08:32:49 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Nobody said anythign about forgeting content (none)
                  You make a fundamental leap there which is bunk. Not only that your circular logic is that branding is junk, but it got people to "invest" in but their content was missing hence if Democrats brand themselves, somehow we stop being able to not fuck up the country like the GOP.

                  It is a non-sequitur.

                  FYI, I am not being played. I happen to know a little about marketing, and branding and it isn't the situation you describe.


                  Mitch Gore

                  Nobody will change America for you, you have to work to make it happen

                  by Lestatdelc on Sat Dec 10, 2005 at 10:45:45 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  This is too good just for dKos (none)
    IMO you should send this off to Dean and Pelosi, including the comments herein, the majority of which are vastly supportive. Unfortunately, we can't do the branding, and without the powers that be hearing from people like you, I don't think they are going to get on the ball. They seem to just keep recycling the same old campaign players who are woefully ineffective.
    •  I agree completely, however (none)
      Pelosi et. al. may not be ready for this. DKos may be how this message gets through to them.

      Unless certain Dem leaders have accepted the Washington Generals gig as a safe secure place to be - - good pay steady work - - letting the GOP remain teh Harlem Globetrotters.

      The WWF brand comes to mind as well.

  •  I no nothing much about branding (4.00)
    but I deeply distrust this branding approach and treating citizens as consumers. It is offensive at its core. It builds its theory up from a rotten basic assumption. I don't doubt there are some insights to be found from treating citizens as consumers but I think we need a different approach.
    •  Offensive at its core? (none)
      Yes, absolutely and its exactly how Rove wins. Its all about emotion and not at all about logic.

      Compassionate conservative? Classic emotional branding. When you pull that lever for a "compassionate conservative" you get a little karmic boost:

      I "AM" compassionate


      I "AM" conservative.

      Mix this with a call not not think too hard, just feel and there you go.

      = = =

      Seem nuts? Beer companies promote the fantasy that drinking their brand of beer will cause half naked supermodels to jump in your lap. That has never worked for me. ;-)

      •  Really? (none)
        Then you must not be drinking the right brand!
      •  You want us to treat democrats and our (4.00)
        constituency like Rove treats his? By manipulation? Whatever works; whatever.
        •  The Polish cavalry charged panzer tanks (none)
          with drawn swords. You want to do that? But they did die with honor.

          ANd, even if we choose a higher road, we need to understand the lower road backwards and forwards.

          •  I'm fine with understanding, fact is, I think (none)
            it is part of what makes our party great. We are the smart party and we shouldn't be trying to dumb down the citizens with sound-bites or manufacturing consent by Rovian means. If we try, we create an intellectual gap between those trying to do the manufacturing and those we are trying to sell it too - the poor stupid ignorant sheep.
            •  What we miss, IMHO, is the emotion (none)
              not the logic. Its not about "tricking" people, its about letting them feel emotionally comfortable with their choice. My wife says her father never understood that Archie Bunker wasn't really the hero of "All in the Family"

              Bush makes a certain sub-set of men feel more masculine. Standing tall, no more getting pushed around by the effeminate French and metro-sexual liberals. Stuff like that.

              Tee-shirts that say: "I neutered my cat - now he's French"

              All the logic in the world cannot trump that.

        •  What would Geobels do? (none)
          Get real, or go home
  •  Three keys (none)
    Reality-based foreign policy: is NOT nation-building.  Emphasize our own national security.  The Republicans sure haven't (see recent 9/11 commission findings).

    Energy independence: also goes hand in hand with foreign policy and provides new American economic opportunities.

    Health care: the big domestic issue that affects us all.  Rising costs are killing employers and employees.

    Howard Dean is wrong to highlight GOP corruption as a major election issue. You just know there are Dems with their own problems regarding this...and the American people don't find politicians from any party exactly trustworthy, anyway.

    •  There was Republican corruption in 1994 as well (none)
      But that didn't stop the Republicans from taking back Congress. Recently, I have noticed a Republican plan to counter-act against their connections to Abramoff by naming tenous links that Abramoff has to Reid and some other Democrats. They pulled this same shit in 2002 at the height of the Enron debacle and we stopped criticizing them as a result. Four years later: what are we going to do this time? In roder to stop the Republicans from neutralizing this, we have to be the one's who hit them first. For example, Bush pounded the "flip flopper" theme against Kerry last year, even though Bush was the real flip flopper (if you type in "flip flopper" in Google, a Kos compilation of Bush's switches will show you why)the voters had a built-in perception of Kerry being the one who flip flops.
  •  I wish the Dem leadership... (none)

    ...would hire Jack Trout and/or Al Ries as consultants.  They coined the term "positioning," and have been all over branding like glue.  I highly recommend their joint-effort books: "Marketing Warfare," "Positioning," "The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing," and their solo efforts, too (I especially like Trout's "The Power of Simplicity.")

    Great post.

    Judge me on the content of my character, not the diaper on my head.

    by Bill in Portland Maine on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:42:32 PM PST

    •  Add "Emotional Branding" (none)
      Remember what Ralph Nader said in 2000? No real difference between Gore and Bush?

      To some extent he was right, except that Bush has this branding business down cold. That wolf ad in 2004, etc. . .

      •  the wolf ad was not itself the brand (none)
        The brand was:
        Strong, keeping you safe.
        (And remember, a strong brand generally suggest that competitors are the opposite -- "weak, not reliable in keeping you safe") The wolves were just a way of portraying that...and not even that effective...
        The brand was better than the brand execution in that instance
    •  This Diary (none)
      Is straight out of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.

      Ries and Trout rock.

    •  Where does Bernie Sanders fit in ? (none)
      And where does the whole spectrum of Democrats from  Russ Feingold, Charlie Rangel, Barbara Boxer to Hllary, Kerry, Edwards, Murtha .. {we'll forget Lieberamn, everyone else has}

      I understand the concept of positioning and maketing  quite well: it fits the GOP like a glove, because it is a corporate Party.

      Is this what we want the Democrats to become?

      "Symplerovus vulgaris americanus" - nasty unindicted co-conspirator. -7.63, -9.59

      by shpilk on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:25:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Part of the Republican secret is (4.00)
    that they tell no small lies, only great, big whopping ones.

    Frist:  I had no idea whether I owned any HCA stock.

    Delay:  I am the victim of a political conspiracy

    Cheney:  Halliburton received no prefernetial treatment from this administration.

    We can't outlie them.

    The problem with this branding thing is that this is their game.  We can't beat them at their game.  We have to play a different game.  My problem is that I don't know what it is.  My only approach is to try to educate people so that they don't make decsisions based on nonsense, but this is painfully slow work.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard

    by illinifan17 on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 01:43:50 PM PST

    •  Time for truth. (none)
      There it is, take it.

      Montage of all the lies of the past 5 years of Bush. Then the screen fades out to white, and in blue letters, the message fades in. Time for truth. Enough is enough. Vote Democratic in 2006.

      2005 was only the beginning.
      Enough Is Enough 2006! Take back the USA!
      Econ: -4.63 Soc: -6.92

      by MamasGun on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:50:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Laughing (4.00)
      A large part of the problem is that the Democrats sometimes take this stuff too seriously and respond with pontification.

      "I had no idea whether I owned any HCA stock."  Democrats respond with laughter asking, "Every American knows how much money they have in stocks; no wonder they run up such huge budget deficits."

      "I am the victim of a political conspiracy."  Democrats respond with laughter saying, "Political conspirators know conspiracy when they see one."

      "Halliburton received no prefernetial treatment from this administration."  Democrats respond with laughter, noting, "Halliburton robbed the American people of $50 billion dollars with the help of Dick Cheney.  They didn't get preferential treatment, we opened up Fort Knox and asked them to carry out all the loot."

      These may not be exactly on point, but good god, why can we not laugh at these whoppers and simultaneously put them on the defensive.  You would think that Democratic laughter died with Will Rogers:  

      "I'm not the member of an organized party!  I'm a Democrat."  


      "We'll hold the distinction of being the only Nation in the history of the world that ever went to the poor house in an automobile."

      -1.88, -6.62 I'm only a lib'rul in Oklahoma.

      by Prof Dave on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:06:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whamo (4.00)
        That's why Jon Stewart and the "Repor" have more whomp than all of print media combined.

        Leno, Letterman and Conan are the kingmakers. Or at least they hold the fan in front of the emperor.

        Dems should hire writers, not marketeers.  Maybe Al Franken can help?

  •  I've been talking about this (4.00)
    for months, along with half of the Kossacks on these pages.  The Dems MUST position themselves as a party that believes in SOMETHING and take that message strong to the consumer, er, voter.

    The Repubs like football metaphors, let's give them a basketball one to counter.  The "best" player in the NBA is Shaquille O'Neal.  No, he's not, but if you ask the average casual basketball fan, he or she might well say Shaq.  Why?  Name recognition; he's certainly one of the two or three players the non-fan will probably recognize.  Why the recognition?  Because Shaq (note the cozy first-name basis -- everybody knows who Shaq is, no need for last names or teams or even photos) has been marketed to death.  He's selling IcyHot, he's selling hamburgers, he's selling...himself.  He's a name brand.  What vaulted him out of the ranks of the "nameless" NBA rank and file?  Because he does one thing and one thing well -- he stands in the paint and fucking hammers down the dunks.  He can't handle the rock, he can't shoot a jump shot, hell, he's not even a great rebounder considering his size and position.  I could probably beat him in H-O-R-S-E.  But turn on ESPN and there he is, making one bone-shattering, telegenic, marketing-wiz's-dream dunk after another.

    If I were putting together an NBA team from scratch with the goal of winning championships, I probably wouldn't name Shaq -- I'd pick ten guys most casual fans have never heard of.  (Yes, I would pick Iverson, but that's another discussion.)  But if I wanted instant TV saturation coverage, Shaq would be my first choice.

    The Republicans have learned to do one thing well -- make the average, non-political American feel that they can do a good job protecting this country from terrorism.  Never mind that we know they are fucking creating the terrorist threat with every stupid thing they do overseas, never mind the endless litany of corruption emanating from the Republican ranks, never mind the bollocks, here's the dunk!  Slamma jamma, baby, dipsy dunkeroo, watch the chimp slam 'er home, bay-bee, whooo hoo!  The Dems are countering with a team made up of nameless, scrubby gym rats who can dribble, pop 3's, run the court, play defense, all the things that make coaches' eyes light up...and bore the shit out of the casual non-fan.  Watch a non-fan watching the ESPN highlights.  Nice back-door play?  Yawn.  Sweet 3?  Yawn.  But show them a big fat meaningless dunk, and they'll sit up and take notice for a few important seconds.  "Yuh, that big fucker Shaq can shore dunk that ball."  "Yeah, but his team isn't winning because of him, his team depends on Dwayne Wade."  "Who?  Never mind, I don't wanna know.  Turn the channel.  But I tell yuh, if I was to have me a team, I'd have that big fucker on it, ain't no damn doubt.  Now turn on Wheel of Fortune and shut yer yap."

    Figure out how to get Shaq out of the limelight in favor of your guy and you've figured out how to beat the Republicans in '06.

    •  Swartzenegger Eh? (none)
      The governator must have taught you something.  It all showbiz. Not some sacred social duty, the voter and the voting lever in a transcedent moment in time.  

      The talent or front man(woman)is just who looks good, smiles and frowns when you do. Maybe has some outstanding feature you can idolize. Like Shaq dunking, Arnold pulling the trigger, or W throwing the switch (Carla Faye Tucker died so that george could have his right of passage.)

      •  Would things were better (none)
        when a highly qualified yet personality-challenged person could have a serious shot at running this country.  The last three losing candidates fielded by the Dems were all highly qualified people capable of ably leading this country, yet their lack of public charisma and their wooden on-stage and on-TV personas deviled their candidacies.  Part of that was, plainly, bad marketing.  Dukakis had a blunt, tough personal appeal that didn't come through until the last two weeks of his candidacy, when he took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and got to work.  Suddenly the tight-assed policy wonk was gone and a plainspoken, forthright candidate was there; too bad for us and the country that he did this far, far too late to beat GHWB.  Gore never unbuttoned for the electorate.  Kerry decided to market himself as a war hero and never bridged the gap between his persona as preppy policy wonk and the reality of his very human, caring personality.

        You seem to think that I've bought into the marketing of a president as a new flavor of soda pop.  If that was true, I'd be touting George Clooney as our best candidate for '08.  It's also possible that I've misjudged the level of snark in your post.

        The Dems' best bet is to recognize the power of marketing and the power of personality in a candidate, and act accordingly without betraying principle.  Hillary Clinton seems to have abandoned her "unpopular" liberal ideals for a straight-down-the-middle roll based on the power of her last name and her appeal to the mushy middle.  If she stays her particular course, she will be exactly the kind of candidate I fear the Dems will want to field -- all sizzle and no steak, a creature of marketing that has no real substance.  Ideally, the Dems can find a candidate that can transcend the marketing/sales aspect of it all, who can combine personal charisma and appeal with real messages and real ability, someone who can sound a true call to arms and band together the disparate and diffident elements of the party behind their candidacy.  Dean did that with much of the left.  Clark showed the potential of doing that with much of the center-right of the party.  We'll see if someone can step up and not only hit some 3's, make some snappy passes, and snag some blue-collar rebounds, but make a few thunderous dunks of his or her own.

        •  Love and Basketball (none)
          I love to play the game.  I like shaq; but hate his game. Refs cover up his blatant charging. You shouldn't need pads to play basketball.

          I am trying to select a president from basketball.  Red Auerbach, John Havlachek, JerryWest, OscarRobertson.

          I am thinking that W was never a leader. He was a pleasant face, a speech reader. Someone Cheney and crew could use as a front; while they ran amuck. He sneaked by Gore using the blowjob.

          Osama saved W's presidency. Else it would have been 4 years commuting to Crawford. Iraq was the breakpoint. He started a war and America re-elected him. The side effects, hardening and lower expectations most disheartening.

          California tosses out GreyDavis to pick a cartoon character from the party of Enron, the agent that caused their energy fiasco.      

          So what kind of player does America cheer for? Underdogs, peevish Rodmans. Dixlexic W, retard put in charge. Arnold the gropenator shoved up the feminists asses.    

          You talk about ability bedeviled by charisma-challenges.  GOP has the other extreme, image but no substance; and they win. You mention Clooney, I heard MelGibson floated if Arnold can't go on. Reagan too was mostly a smile and a twinkle.

          I hear basketball is all trash talk now too. I've lived too long.  Or stayed up too late.

          •  That's why I'm a college basketball fan (none)
            and a fan of the Tarheels in particular.  Good, unselfish ball with a minimum of trash talk (though we did produce the quotidian trash talker in Michael Jordan), team before stars, etc.  Like they said in "Slapshot," good old-fashioned Eddie Shore sportsmanship.  To which the Rodmans and the Shaqs say, "Piss on Eddie Shore!"
  •  Embracing our brand (4.00)
    Shortly after the 2004 election, I came to a very similar conclusion: that the Democratic brand has been severely devalued, largely through the diligent efforts of our opponents and the fecklessness of our leadership.  

    People who assume that the content of our character, the justness of our cause, or the superiority of our ideas will be enough to win -- or worse, that they should be enough to win, and therefore nothing more should be put forward -- are not living in the real world.  Most Americans have precious little time or energy to devote to an analysis of the issues.  The mainstream media does an abyssmal job of explaining those issues, and the Republicans do their best to conceal what's at stake with meaningless platitudes like "compassionate conservatism" and Orwellian distortions of the language.

    Branding matters: it's shorthand for "I prefer ___ because ..."  You will see people support one candidate or another without regard to the actual positions of the candidate, simply because they assume that a person wearing Brand X must necessarily have certain traits, whereas a person wearing Brand Y must have other traits.  We've allowed the GOP to define our brand; and not surprisingly, they've neither been fair nor balanced in doing so.

    About 20 years ago, the National Rifle Association ran a series of full-page ads in newspapers and magazines.  Featuring a flattering picture of the person protrayed, each ad contained a brief statement about the person written in autobiographical form, a statement about why they embraced the NRA's positions, and then, in large letters the slogan "I am the NRA."  The point of the campaign was to push public awareness of the NRA as a brand in a favorable direction:  the NRA is working moms, firefighters, popular actors, doctors, and so on.  The campaign waned for a while in the early Nineties, and was revived by Charleton Heston when he became NRA president.  These ads, in my opinion, while easily parodied, were successful in creating a public perception of the NRA as consisting of decent, responsible, everyday people.  Sure, the organization may be run by extremist nutjobs -- but the people in those ads are nice folk, and they are the NRA.

    I don't see why a similar campaign can't work for us.  Yes, it's late, and no, it may not have much impact in 2006 -- but building a brand is a multi-year, and sometimes a multi-generational effort.  Our ads ought to feature Democrats both everyday and celebrated:  average Americans, like factory workers, doctors, police officers, secretaries, verinarians, teachers, soldiers, students; present-day leaders, like our DNC chairman, governors, members of Congress, and inspirational figures like Max Cleland and Jimmy Carter; and Democratic heroes of the past: Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt, Barbara Jordan.  The NRA format will work fine: a large photo of the person as a backdrop, an autobiographical sketch, and a statement of why they're Democrats:  "I believe in the greatness of America"  "I believe that all our children should have the opportunity to learn and achieve"  "I believe that justice and freedom are values to be fought for."    Then, the words, larger than the rest: "Proud to be a Democrat."

    This is a campaign we could run a long time.  It's easy to transport into other forms, as the NRA did.  Their brand slogan appeared on bumperstickers, T-shirts, and other promotional materials; it was used as the first line in many letters to the editor (probably astroturf, but still effective); and most importantly, it was easy to remember and impossible to think of without being reminded of the nice people who were saying they were the NRA.  We can do the same.

    I'm tired of people hiding their Democratic affiliation.  I think it was Markos who said that his first litmus test would be that whoever ran as a Democrat should damn well run as a Democrat -- no hiding their affiliation, no generalized trashing of the party (criticism of a position or even a candidate is fine, but no Zell Miller-style crap).  I agree, and I think it's time we made it clear that we are the patriots here, the ones who stand with the Founding Fathers for the best of the ideals that they tried to instill -- justice, personal liberty, freedom of opportunity, security and prosperity for everyone.

    •  I am a Democrat, not a disciple (none)
      Don't recall any Dem party commercials. Instead always tied to a candidate.

      I don't vote for the candidate. I vote for the party, in particular all the fellow travelers, hangers on, and party faithful that share my values. This group are the ones I trust. They are working day in day out; but ads only appear after some candidate has been selected.

      The branding has to go on year round.

  •  rules, not laws (none)
    The rules of marketing and branding rely on two very important factors: perceived core values and trust. No trust, no promise.  While a shift in perceived core values can spell brand disaster, a shift in trust is brand disaster. The Republican brand is under fire on both fronts.  

    Imagine if Disney eroded its perception of family fun and Mickey popped Diane Sawyer in the kisser. May not send the kiddies screaming over to Universal Studios, but if the only other option is staying home, the consumer is going to go somewhere else.


  •  Overly Pessimistic (4.00)
    There are couple issues here:

    First, in 2004 we had a slate of candidates that steadfastly refused to criticize the Republicans until about six weeks before the election.  The top of ticket refused to even defend himself, and would not mention the words "Abu" and "Ghraib" to save his life.  This was VERY STUPID.  It COST US THE ELECTION.  Even with all the deficiencies this diary cogently points out in the Dem message, we almost won a lot of stuff.  Since then, we've fixed that problem, and lo and behold, we've picked up 10-15 points pretty much every where--generic Cong., Bush approval, etc. etc.  

    Now this doesn't mean that we shouldn't heed the very good advice that this diary has to offer.  I just take issue with the gloomy predictions it offers.  And I would also say that the Dems ability to create a strong brand could very well be the difference between taking over the house and merely picking up some seats, especially since the gerrymandering and built-in money advantage for the GOP makes the threshold we have to clear to win that takeover far higher.  I just want to make sure we all take stock of the extent to which things have changed and we have the momentum.

    1. Watched Harry Reid at JHU yesterday.  When he simply recited the charges currently pending against the White House and the Congressional leadership, a hush fell over the room--dead quiet.  It's very powerful.  And it will only get worse for them as the Abramoff investigation continues, the Delay and Libby trials come and go, possible new Plame indictments.  It's not going away; it's getting worse. They won't shake this for a decade, let alone in the next 9-12 months.  

    2. Iraq is fucked.  So they'll pull out troops.  They won't pull them all out.  To be able to call the Dems quitters, they'll leave more than they should.  They'll withdraw, say, 50K troops in the last few weeks before the election.  Then two days later 10 more marines will die.  And there will be dozens killed before election day.  That's a buzz kill. Plus we have yet to see the escalation that is sure to take place once the Sunnis are under federal shia rule.  There's a reason why we're so pissed.  It's b/c we're right and they're wrong.  This was an incredibly dumb idea.  This war is a disaster and the American public hates it.  

    3. We already have a very interesting brand developing.  All of these  Iraq vet candidates and first-time, outsiders--teachers, former FBI agents and CIA agents, mothers of soldiers in Iraq.  These are people called to service by the outrage they feel, and they outrage in their communities and among their supporters at the incompetence, the anti-democraticism, the greed, and the death.  I like that brand just fine.  

    Granted the party, apart from Rahm and the DCCC, hasn't quite gotten on board yet.  D.C. Dems will be tough to keep in line, but we also got Dean.  And Dean can deliver this message and these candidate with more credibility than anybody.  He's Mr. Grassroots.  I don't necessarily want him strutting around the TX 6th CD with David Harris, but he can make the case in the national media that the Dems are outsiders, citizen-candidates, called to serve because they are disgusted with the GOP agenda and leadership in D.C.  And the outsiders have plenty of vision.  Listen to Harris, or Hackett, or any of those guys.  Listen to Lentz talk about the war. They're real good.  And the simple fact that these folks are not career politicans is huge because it gives them credibility and maes them easy to identify with when they talk corruption.  

    So basically, I agree.  The more focus and clarity we find for the message the better.  But don't be afraid to recognize how much things have improved in the past year.  Don't be afraid to get excited that change could actually happen.  Get your hopes up.  Buy in.  Fight hard, and let's go win it.  We need to stop spending all of our time on strategy and tactics, and start mixing in some doing and leading.  We're like the football team that won't play physical, and our opponent spends the whole first half hitting real hard and knocking the crap out of us, but all their best players got injured, giving us a great chance in the second half.  Then at halftime we're convinced we just need to draw up the perfect set of plays to solve all of our problems. There are times when you just have to dig deep and hit them as hard as you can.  A great play is obviously a big asset, but it won't help you win the game if you refused to believe in yourself and your teammates and get out there and nail somebody.  

    Some of this stuff will get solved along the way.  The rest we'll have to be aware of and correct if it's continuing to hurt us.  But now we need action.  We need doors knocked on, calls placed, dollars donated, letters written, friends and neighbors brought along and commitment and focus worn proudly as a badge on our sleeves.  People want to take us seriously, and they aren't holding out beacause we won't say the right thing.  They're holding out b/c  it looks like we don't take ourselves seriously.  So let's start doing that.

  •  Negative branding (none)
    The word "branding" comes from the use of hot irons to identify cattle (which tells you something about rank & file Republicans).  The Democratic party has an aversion to branding for at least three reasons:  The party is far more diverse in ideas, the party seeks to represent people instead of blind ideology, and the party's base is wary of corporate methods.

    But you are correct, the party definitely needs to better communicate its values.  I suspect it's not far under the surface.  Dean just needs to open the right box in the attic and dust it off.  Probably goes something like fairness, honesty, and shared responsibility.

  •  branding vs. social science (none)
    I don't want to detract from the larger point -- in which you are 100% correct -- that the Dems need a unified national platform and a refined image.

    But your analysis belies much of what we've learned from 40 years of empirical political science.  Just as the economist dabbling in politics tends to miscast voters as rational actors, your insights on consumer behavior are perhaps not ideally suited for the peculiar world of political citizenship.

    For example, we have models that do a great job of predicting the inter-election seat swing in Congress.  No doubt branding may work at the margins; but the big factors -- the state of the economy, presidential approval, open seat exposure, relative candidate quality -- have little to nothing to do with branding.  

    What was the unified positive message on which the Dems ran in 1974?  Pretty much "throw the Watergate-tainted bums out."  That worked like magic, because the structural conditions were already in their favor.  But what about the "hard case" for my argument: 1994?  Well, keep in mind that surveys showed that almost no one had even heard of the Contract With America until after the election.  So its post-hoc lore greatly outstripped its actual impact on the election.  Republicans did well because of the structural conditions that a dozen or more congressional scholars had identified before the Contract was even written.  

    So again, I don't want the greater point to be lost -- we NEED a freakin' message!  But I just wanted to add the caution of not overplaying a particular theoretical perspective, especially one that has little demonstrated predictive value in politics beyond anecdotes and speculation.

  •  impeachment (none)
    The republicans took Bill's bj and made a big deal out of it--sort of made it overblown.  They held impeachment hearings and succeeded in branding a successful president as a disgrace and Bill blew it when he lied on tv.  Instead of cursing this sad historical affair, we should learn from it.

    Every dem should demand impeachment hearings--there are so many issues that the only difficulty should be on what charges we should pursue.  Iraq lies and Katrina incompetence seem the best ones for the time being.  Of course the bushies will cry politics and refuse to even have a vote--and that's when we use the PR guys to place ads comparing the impeachment of Clinton with the lack of action on more important matters--you know, those that cost innocent lives.

    That's our brand, protecting Americans from greedy, lying, incompetent traitors.  Every talking point should include that this could never have happened if at least one branch of government was not in bush's control.  That's the hook for 2006---give us veto power over these power grabbing, heartless bastards.  With that last statement flash some pictures of cheney and rummy.  A vote for a democratic congressman is a vote against cheney.

  •  I think everybody is forgetting (none)
    something.  What are the traits people will be looking for in their candidates in this next election. I know I'm looking for a message and a candidate that understands the issues facing us. Is conversant and knowledgable. In a nutshell:

    Democrats, the party of TRUE resposibility.  
      (detail why here)

    Competent, responsive to the people
      (detail why here)

      (must show true tangibile results here for a
       contrast to the Bushco smoke & mirrors)

    The American people are really looking for LEADERS with vision AND the ability to produce concrete results to address our current problems.

    The extra added edge here is the vision of our future that looks bright, gives hope. It must be the vision of our collective future combined with the promise to roll up our sleeves and address issues.  The first three traits seem boring.  It's a must that they be addressed from a future oriented exciting angle or it will fall flat.

    In short we are looking for grown-ups, to take the lead and take the reins and remind us of our greatness.  True governing.

  •  How's this for a "brand": (none)
  •  The act of voting is quite unlike ... (3.50)
    ... a retail transaction.

    A subject that has been discussed here before, and better ... and one of the reasons commercial marketeers tend to face-plant when they turn their skills to politics.

    But thanks for writing.

    None Dare Call It Stupid!

    by RonK Seattle on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:09:02 PM PST

  •  various thoughts (3.75)
    I agree with most of what you are saying here. Having dissected more marketing ideas than I cared to, I believe that most big ad/brand/etc. campaigns center on two ideas:

    1. Our customers have psychological triggers we can pull.
    2. Our customers aren't smart enough to know they are being played.

    Seriously. Watch TV one evening and see how many commercials not only assume their potential customers are too stupid to know better, they actually show people using their product that range from dim bulbs to downright idiots.

    To me, this is exactly the strategy the GOP follows. It is the "getting laid by bikini models" (tm) method. When the brain is used, you know damn well that Cindy Crawford won't sleep with you if you drink Budweiser, but they pull the primal psychological sex trigger and people get sucked into the marketing anyway (heh heh, he said suck). I think it actually digs even more into our tendency to believe that we are unlovable, that sex with ideal people equals love, and that such a situation will save us from our unhappy lives, but that's a different conversation.

    The GOP uses fear. Reptilian brain fear. They pull the trigger and people don't seem to grasp how they are being sucked in. It has worked.

    Using point 1: "Terror, fear, 9/11, attack, threat, doom, 9/11, evil, Saddam, 9/11, America, 9/11, freedom, 9/11, etc." - Fear is one of the biggest triggers.

    Using point 2: Conflate Iraq and 9/11 and al-Qaida together, blur the lies, wrap yourself in the flag, remember 9/11! No one uses the big, meaty brain parts to sort through this. Viva la reptiles! Thanks for your brain.

    It's blatant manipulation. That's what marketing fundamentally is for most who work in it. There are lots of scrupulous people who do this sort of work too, but they generally do things other than trying to make shitty shoes look like they were made in God's own image.

    Perhaps our fault as Dems (though I don't think of it as such) is that we assume that people have brains and are swayed by facts. Most marketing practice assumes that people are not. Maybe that's why we have been losing over the years. The GOP will sink to any deceptive and manipulative trick to win, and, well, they've been winning.

    I still believe we can do both (win and treat people like thinking adults). I still want a marketing and branding campaign that we can be proud of. I do think it's possible. That kind of campaign takes more thought, care, brains, effort, etc. than the easy, base way, but hey we have a 60K+ parallel processing unit called dKos. So, let's use it.

    Thanks for bringing this issue to the fore. I may not agree with you on some points, but it's not like I have all the answers. Regardless, this is the right conversation to be having right now.

    "I am a patriot, and I love my country because my country is all I know."

    by Aragorn for America on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:09:16 PM PST

    •  So what do we play with? (none)
      Fear is not a good tool to use for being progressive, and they've already cornered the market on that emotion.

      Some possible alternative emotions:

      Greed/self-interest: this could be used to promote new spending on health care, higher education, or mass transit.  But it would not get us anywhere on deficits, the environment, poverty, early education,  or a sensible foreign policy.  It also fails to play into the biggest GOP weaknesses: incompetence and corruption.  Which brings us to...

      Anger: This would be easy to take advantage of, but it might be hard to focus public anger on just Republicans.  Also, it doesn't do much for our policies, unless we start getting really radical, which is risky.  Getting radical may have worked for the Republicans in '94, but even then, they had a better message machine to sell that with than we do now.

      Pride: This is my current favorite, as it lets people turn their disgust with Katrina/corruption/Iraq/Bush (really disgust with their own decisions) into a positive vision.  People will think "we're better than that,"  but the hard part is we can't say that directly.  Rather, we do it by contrasting the way things should be with the way they are.

      See my post below, where I argue for "Take pride in the team" as a better pride message right now, with "Take back what is yours" as the possible anger message in a later cycle.

      This isn't Republicans vs. Democrats, it's Republicans vs. Democracy.

      by randompost on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:47:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's the product, not the ads (none)
    The biggest problem is not lack of a unified message, but lack of policy. Talking about peace while voting to go to war is unsellable. John Kerry proved that. Yes, the campaign was inept, but by the end most of us saw him as inadequate anyway.

    Before the Democrats can present a unified message they need a better product, and a set of candidates that represent that product.

    The GOP has nothing but junk to offer, but they do it cleverly and win. However, with a good product, even a mediocre campaign will do. However, the branding has to be distinct. The Dems, especially Hillary, are running as GOP-lite. They are essentially out there wearing Nikes while trying to promote Reeboks.

    I agree with your overall impression that if things continue to roll along the same old tracks, the GOP will win the 2006 elections despite all that is going on with the world. But while slick marketing might be needed, it is the shabbiness of the product and lack of articulate and charismatic leaders that hurt most politically. I have many acquaintances who vote for the bad guys, in spite of disagreeing with them, simply because the Dems are not a credible alternative. I don't expect that to change, and think that in the long term a different party is needed--a fresh start with good policies, qualified candidates, and a total contrast with the competing corporations.

    If the Dems can't get their act together, they should admit failure and dissolve the party. That might be the best way to get some good people elected, given their poor message and incompetent campaigns.

    I'm a linguist, licensed to use words any way I want to!

    by MakeChessNotWar on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:10:42 PM PST

  •  Brand vs. message (none)
    Brand is an advertising term. Message is a political term. Precisely what they mean depends on who's using them, but they are not interchangeable. As you say, and as supported by the examples you cite -- Coke vs. Pepsi, Budweiser vs. Miller, McDonald's vs. Wendy's -- three choices of crap vs. crap -- brand is not about quality. But message is, or can be. What you are saying is of value, but it needs to be filtered by the understanding that we're Democrats here: we actually do care about the content of the message, we don't think that winning at any cost is acceptable, and we don't think that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is anything remotely like the difference between Coke and Pepsi. Do Democrats need a unified message? Sure. Do we need to talk like soulless marketing drones (no offense) to articulate that message? I don't think so.

    breaking news in little bits since 1981

    by mswaine on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:11:13 PM PST

  •  vilest creatures in America: GOoPers and ... (2.80)
    ...Marketing humps.  You people make me (and all of us) sick.

    Spare us your 'branding' and 'message' speak.  Your constant appeasement of the lowest common denominator in all facets of life is what's killing us as a nation.

    Now for a real lesson. You people are worthless and have no skills except that of spinning bullshit.  The last thing this nation needs is more snake-oil salesmen telling us how to 'craft' messages.  It's time for substance and truth to enter the national debate...and that's not something that packages nicely into three-point campaigns.

    Go sell sneakers and waffles with your 'skills.'  When it comes to matters of life, death, and the future of this nation, you are way out of your league, you overpaid pompous leech.

    •  Leave enlightnenment to the elightened (none)
      Lighten up, it's just politics.  Sometimes people, even lots of people, die; but the world keeps spinning. People eat, lie, dream, screw when they can.

      Marketing is just asymetric dialog. A little sky-writing and maybe the proles'll buy your corn flakes.  It's a tool, not evil or good, except in how it is used.

      Face it most folks aren't spending their Friday nights trolling through political blogs for enlightenment. They need guidance every 4(2) years.        

    •  oooh! Rippe gave me a "1" cuz... (none)
      ...I don't buy his snake oil.

      Tell you what, "craft" this.

  •  Yeppers... (none)
    I think that this is one of the best goddamned diaries I have read in a long time.  It is about image. Americans have about a 5 minute memory, as the diarist said; once they see Soldiers coming home, all will be forgiven.

    As Markos has said before; "The GOP flag flies higher than the American flag". You best believe that, they will do anything to maintain control, and frankly it isn't going to take much for them to maintain control.

    Whether there is victory or not, the GOP will claim it, we have to take that away from them.

    We need a strong unified message that all Americans can get behind. We need to keep pounding away at the "culture of corruption" that plagues the GOP. We need to stick together come up with a damned plan, present it to the people and stand behind it.

    I think we can still take '06 and '08, but it is going to take more work than ever before.

  •  Wrong (none)
    It's the same reason that Coke beats Pepsi, Budweiser beats Miller, McDonald's beats Wendy's, and why Republicans beat Democrats - not because the product is better, but because the branding is better.

    Coke and Budweiser are better products. In both case, the inferior competitor has less flavor and more sweetness. In Miller's case they achieve that by adding milk sugar, which the yeast can't break down the way it does with the sugars in the grains (which I know too well because milk sugar makes me sick).

    McDonald's and Wendy's may be a more interesting comparison, since Wendy's — unlike Miller — is largely better for you, just like the Democrats. What McDonald's has is a more distinct experience; Wendy's food is satisfying enough but harder to crave. McDonald's cousine gains flavor by being more dietarily corrupt.

    Now, if your perspective on Bud and Miller is that of a beer snob who won't drink either, that would explain your ignorance of the vast difference in quality between them. But if you actually drink Miller in preference to Bud ... that's just sad. Bud may not be great beer; but at least it's beer.

    •  Heh. (none)
      I was with him up until Coke vs. Pepsi. On the handful of occasions I've had it, I remember Pepsi to have tasted pretty vile. On the other hand, I've lost my taste for Coke as well. On the occasion that I want a soft drink, I prefer Dr. Pepper or Barq's - what does that make me, an independent? Should I be voting for Lolbertarians or Greens? So confusing.
    •  Color me snobby (none)
      Becks and Stella Artois all the way, baby.

      All your vote are belong to us. Warner/Feingold 2008

      by Harkov311 on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:40:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Heard the question before. (none)
    What about some answers?

    Hard as it is for me, being reality-based, cynical, and geeky, here are some emotional messages that may or may not work:

    "We will take care of you."  Emotional, contrasting, reassuring, but this brand has been discredited as the "welfare state."

    "We will mind the store."  Contrasting, wide-ranging, topical, but not emotional or visionary.  Has failed us before -- see Kerry and Dukakis.

    "Take pride in the team."  This is the JFK brand, and has some real strengths, including allowing us to repeal once-popular policies (Iraq, trickle-down, cowboy diplomacy, ignoring cities/poverty/health care/environment) without appearing judgmental -- it's a mess that somehow just showed up, and now needs cleaning through mutual sacrifice.  This brand also plays on the corruption angle.  This brand isn't specific in its promise, but that could be a strength.  You will note that "Together, America can do better" is stretching toward this brand, but in that formulation is too judgmental and too clumsy.

    "Do your part for the team" is a variant that I do not recommend, as it puts too much on the voter, risking overwhelming them.

    "Throw the bums out" or "Take back America" appeal to us, but will not draw out the middle, and will be seen as cynical.  And it has no staying power.

    "Take back what is yours," the New Deal brand, has some potential, but will have to wait until there is a broader dissatisfaction with the current order.  If we don't win in 2006, and the Republicans are still in charge when the economic and geopolitical chickens come home to roost, this brand will be operative.

    This isn't Republicans vs. Democrats, it's Republicans vs. Democracy.

    by randompost on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:18:38 PM PST

  •  Umm, we're not talking about advertising (4.00)
    Americans always want to reduce everything to a feeze-dried, life-processed-out-of-it brand.

    Brand is not reality.  People who believe those "promises" are unrealistic.

    We may be the largest debtor nation, with the largest average household consumer debt and the most commercialized everything from Christmas to the War on Terror (thunder in background.)

    But we are still creations of the stars--irrefutably--and the infinite present and the unlimited love are our currency.  We don't need to buy any more phony stuff because we have been there and done that.  Besides, we have EVERYTHING we will ever need right now.

    I see your brand melting into a puddle in my neighborhood that I pass when I walk to my neighbor's house and he invites me in to talk.

  •  have to disagree (none)
    It's the same reason that Coke beats Pepsi...not because the product is better

    pepsi is disgustingly sweet, whereas coke is not.  that is why coke kicks pepsi's ass.

    thanks for this diary - i'm glad it's being sent off!

  •  Hey I'm the choir! (none)
    [ as in "preaching to the __". ]

    There have been a number of Kossacks who have spoken up about the Democratic brand since "Day 2" aka November 3rd.  There were tons of diaries deconstructing the failures of the Kerry branding and the Democratic Party branding as a whole. There are lots of knowledgable Kossacks on this topic. But nothing came of it.

    Why we Democrats just don't get it I'll never understand. If you look at dKos in the past year, there are far too many of us who are too wound up with their pet issues to see any need for building a brand for the party.

    I find this among my friends too. Many of my friends are activists in one area or another and the energy they devote to their cause is truly inspiring. But none of them are at all interested in working for the Democratic party. In many cases they just don't trust politicians.

    The problem is, that with all the attention that they pay to their causes they are neglecting the most effective way of seeing their pet projects come to fruition: by having a strong well-branded political party that will win elections and enact laws to further their goals.

    There are so many excellent marketeers and project(product) managers working for leftist causes. But what does the Democratic Party have as their marketing/product support? A bunch of "effin" amateurs! Just a bunch of tired political consultants who are throwbacks to the Chicago/Tammany Hall-style of Democratic politics.

    The question I want answered is: How do we get their attention focused on this problem as the granddaddy of all other Democratic problems? Do we need to confront them Coulter-style with a pie in the face?

    Sorry for the mini-rant. But I haven't had the chance to vent on this topic in a while.

    "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

    by Glinda on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:31:53 PM PST

  •  elective office (none)
    should be earned based upon perceived principles and positions of the candidates.

    Representatives should do just that - represent their constituents. This is true especially in the House of Representatives.

    How do you propose to establish a 'unified message' that will work for Nebraskans as well as New Yorkers, Floridians as well as Californians?

    In the best sense, it has to do with the perception that the individual is real, and is one that shares your vision, can be trusted and is repsonsible.

    Bernie Sanders is an excellent example of why the logic of your arguement fails.

    And people who are ahead of their time, like the late Paul Wellstone, Russ Feingold and Howard Dean are good examples also of why 'branding' and habing a 'unified message' is dangerous to our democracy.

    What people need to remember is unlike the lock-step mindless follow-the-leadership GOP, Democrats are actually willing and able to do their job. In other words, represent the people who voted them into office.

    Demcoracy is messy, it's SUPPOSED to be. It's not supposed to fit into a 15 second soundbite or some damn 'brand'.

    "Symplerovus vulgaris americanus" - nasty unindicted co-conspirator. -7.63, -9.59

    by shpilk on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:33:37 PM PST

  •  Close your eyes if you have read this (none)
    from me before...

    They have the G's - God, guns and (anti)gays. We have the "E's". You can choose yours from this list:

    Economy - Dem economies are better for all
    Education - invest in the future
    Energy - alternative fuels off foreign oil
    Equality - including equal healthcare for all
    Enforcement - of regulations/rules/laws (9/11 com.)
    Environment - stop paving paradise and putting in parking lots....

  •  Its not branding anymore (none)
    Look at what happens every time Dean says something... A fire lights up in everybody's hearts and the dems start to solidify.

    Its simply because ALL politicians dem or repub have been blind to representing what the people want.

    Anybody who is courageous enough to say we want Healthcare, Social Security and Education takes a risk and gets bashed by the corporate government but ultimately WILL GET ELECTED if they face their fears head on and express those needs.

    Branding be damned.  Everybody is tired of this crap.

    We will get a good government soon.

    We want this.  We will get it.

  •  This is sad (4.00)
    People vote Democrat because it's a better brand than Republican? Yeah, right, and they drink Coke because it's a better brand than Pepsi. In either case, it's actually because A) is slightly better than B).

    It so happens that Republicans have been better at packaging a vote for the lesser of the two evils as a vote for good. "Family Values" means: "less of the crap you guys experience every time you come home. "Democracy" means "A Better Tyranny."

    So what are you guys afraid of, exactly? The Greens? The Revolutionary Communist Party? Everybody hates the Republicans, isn't that easy enough to package? Or (horror!) is it that Democrats, like Republicans, have no interest in any message except the one that gets them into power with the least commitment to their constituents? If so, fine, but don't go around feeling so goddammed guilty about it.

  •  A slogan in just one word (none)
    Democrats:  Renewal
  •  People are tired. (none)
    And overstimulated. No matter what political persuasion people are, the last five years have been a roller-coaster ride. If the Dems can't agree on a vision message, the next best thing may be a message that taps into people's desire for rest and stability and healing.
  •  Post script (none)
    Rather than 'brand' the Democratic Party

    How about branding Democracy, instead?

    The strength of the Democratic Party is IN IT'S diversity. To dilute this and become GOP-lite is a strategy doomed to fail.

    I will fight this attempt to 'brand', at every turn.

    "Symplerovus vulgaris americanus" - nasty unindicted co-conspirator. -7.63, -9.59

    by shpilk on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:37:00 PM PST

  •  Democrats were unprepared... (none) wage a war of aggression.  Or at least a lot of them were, not all.  That's bad marketing?  And this branding thing sounds painful, too.  

    Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on. --Winston Churchill

    by rmwarnick on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:37:42 PM PST

  •  I have as much appreciation for branding (none)
    as anyone, having been in advertising and PR for 25 years, but . . .

    This doesn't strike me as a complete assessment of our party's situation.  Brand matters, for sure, but from all I can tell, candidates matter more.

    WAY more.

    John Kerry didn't fail because of anything inherent in the party platform. He failed because he couldn't deliver an authentic, intelligible position on several critical national issues.

    While I agree that unified messaging would be a big plus, I wouldn't say it's either necessary or sufficient for a Democratic victory.

    •  in a presidential (none)
      In a presidential election, your candidate carries your brand for all intents and purposes. In an off-year, it gets fuzzier as there are no nationally unifying races.

      Need a community website? I make 'em:

      by Outlandish Josh on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:42:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No chicken, no egg (none)
      Who knows whether the lack of branding came first or the lack of candidates first, but now they feed into each other.

      I think the general hostility toward the media, even media organizations that are undoubtedly populated by a much of Daily Kos readers, is a symptom of the same general lack of political communications skills.

      But another challenge is that, at this point, the Democratic represents a bunch of very moderate people along with a bunch of Socialists. We have to have a strong brand, but one that does not go out of its way to alienate either the moderates or the Greens.

      The problem with Hillary and the DLC is that they've been actively chasing away the Greens, and even old-fashioned moderates who happen to read Daily Kos, for no good reason.

      The problem with the Greens is that, undiluted many of them are just way too strong for the average swing voter.

      I think the brand message that could unite both wings of the party is "adulthood." We sell the awareness of the idea that you have to pay your bills and get along with your neighbors and, in general, be like Gregory Peck in to Kill a Mockingbird. The question is, how do we get some Gregory Peck candidates, and how do we make adulthood sexy in an age of bling bling?

  •  Good Good (none)
    In regards to yr questions around the "#1 Issue," we have to have a solid rationale for withdrawl -- personally I favor "let Iraqis have their country back so we can focus on job #1: finding Osama" or something along those lines -- and then have something domestic to pivot to from there.

    Also, there's a good bit of inward-looking tradition to tap into, "don't go looking for demons abroad", "a republic, not an empire" and all that. It can be used to help people understand the change from GOP to Dem in terms that feel very familiar.

    I would push the terrorism button as above, and talk about money. GDP may be up, but most people are feeling the squeeze. That should flow into the corruption angle -- we can't build an economy for the 21st century (complete with universal health care) as long as the government is in the pocket of corporate fat cats who are intent on looting the remans of 20th.

    Consumer debt relief? An end to high-interest credit cards? Once the troops come home, the next move would seem to be for some kind of blatant populist appeal.

    Need a community website? I make 'em:

    by Outlandish Josh on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:40:32 PM PST

  •  Start a subsidiary brand? (none)
    To extend the marketing analogy -- I think we're in the position of a burger shop in which some of the employees are actually trying to sell tacos. People are getting confused by our burger ads with references to beans, tortillas and salsa; and our customers are complaining about ordering sandwiches and getting tacos, or vice versa.

    Given that we can't fire said employees, one solution is to open a separate taco counter. Put up burger ads for burgers, and taco ads for tacos. Make it clear who's selling what, and that they don't speak for each other. Don't have the burger people trash the tacos or vice versa, but make it clear that either one is better than the lousy restaurant across the street.

    I'm not saying we need to split the party; but if we can't get everyone to agree on a single message, the best way to cut our losses may be to admit that we have several divergent messages (while making it clear which Democrat supports which message).

  •  The Repubs (none)
    are in the dumpster right now precisely because people smell that they are all about marketing and branding.  

    Look at the recent media coverage of Bush's "Victory in Iraq" speech before a crowd of Navy cadets.  There was a time when that was all Bush needed to do to snowball the press, and send the dems running for cover. But this time the slick marketing production didn't go over so well. All the coverage of the event was focused on how fake and stage-managed it was; about the gaudy backdrop prominently featuring the word "Victory", about how that word "Victory" had been market tested and designed by a media/polling consultant from Duke University to provoke a favorable mind-set in the public, about how he repeated that word over and over. In other words, the focus was more on the manipulative marketing tactics of the White House.  

    There were snarky reamrks in the media about the disconnect between a WH that says  militray commanders were guiding the policy, while at the same time turning to a marketing strategist to craft a major policy speech on teh war.    

    Of course, none of this is new - we progressives always took note of the subliminal backdrops and reptitous buzzwords.  What is new is that people are buying it anymore.  They've become hyper-sensitized to being emotionally jerked around.  Sure, the raw emotional appeal will always work for the brain-dead Fox watchers and Rush ditto-heads.  But in general, I think regular folks are ready for some honesty, and for some well-thought out arguments - not someone trying to manipulate their emotions and sell them a box of cereal.  

    You can say I just don't "get it" when it comes to sophisticated marketing.  You may be right - but I think a lot of Americans don't get it anymore either.  If democrats really want to capitalize on the mood sweeping the country, they'd be best off shaping themselves as the "anti-Brand".  Not the "anti-Republican Brand", but rather the "anti-Bullshit-in-general Brand".

  •  This is wrong... (none)
    You assume voters are complete idiots and won't see through the political ploy of withdrawing troops before 06'. They've had five years of being played by these creeps. Don't you think some of them have woken up by now? Many have, many will never believe their party would deceive them.  But the majority are fed-up with being duped. The republicans are toast in 06'.
    •  You assume voters think (none)
      Sadly, many vote on how they feel.

      Reagan asked "Where's the beef"

      A thick book was produced stuffed full of undeniable statistics and superb policy analysis.

      Reagan smirked. He had just won.

      •  It;'s not sad. It;'s human nature. (none)
        It was Mondale that asked "Where's the beef". It was pointed at the blow-dried guy from Colorado. Gary Hart.

        Reagan had Carter malaise as his whipping boy.  "Morning in America".  His campaign manager was Roger Ailes.  He now runs Fox News.  Get it?

        Mondale actually said he would raise taxes. The truth doesn't always fly in politics or Hollywood. It's not that simple. People sometimes want escape.

  •  Swingers don't care about branding (4.00)
    In terms of gains in '06, there are two groups these votes can come from: those who identify Republican, and those who are independents/swing voters.  

    It seems to me that the "branding" concept only applies to trying to make long-term headway into Republican-identifying voters who are Republicans because they don't like the Democratic "brand."  But for bringing over independents/swing voters, though, that's not so important because they will vote Democratic if the Republican alternative is unattractive.  To use your Coke vs. Pepsi analogy, some people like me will only drink Coke, and it would take would be a herculean task to rebrand Pepsi to make me buy it instead.  But a lot of people don't care, and will buy what's on sale that week, regardless of what the branding message is.

    Point being, swing voters who previously voted Republican will vote Democratic if Democrats give them a good reason to or if Republicans give them sufficient reason not to vote Republican.  "Rebranding" to long-term gains in Republican-identifying voters is important, but not a make or break proposition for '06.

  •  I've been waiting for this diary: I HAVE THE BRAND (4.00)
    ...and have had for over a year.  I came up with this about that long ago, at a Dem-Lakoff framing seminar (which he couldn't attend because of a surgery he supposedly had to attend).  We were in a slogan compiling session when it came just to me, and I shouted it out:


    It got the most votes at the large-group wrap-up, but I don't know if it ever got forwarded to anybody (the seminar organizer wasn't that happy about it because it didn't fit her agenda-driven concept of what we were supposed to produce).  I did a few common law copyright moves to insure that the Sith didn't get it and use it themselves, but never heard a word from anybody with a D behind their names.  Surprise, surprise.  (You can even find it somewhere in my comments to this forum.)

    I won't get into the many and various strengths of the slogan/maxim, which I have been mulling over for the last 12 months.  Anybody with moderate intelligence can see them easily enough, though.  

    Anyway there you have it.  Thanks for forwarding this along, Rippe, and I'd be interested in any feedback if you or any other marketing gurus out there might have.  

    Also please note: I will release my copyright only to an organization that I am confident will fulfill the promise it implies.

    Jorge's a renegade; there's blood on his hands, oil in his arteries and cyanide inside his glands...

    by nailbender on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:54:03 PM PST

    •  Beanbag (none)
      Brand is promise?  Maybe more like image, not just a slogan.  Think Apple .v. MicroSoft.  Slogan, or image comes to mind?  IPod dancing .v. spreadsheet in in suit.  

      What is the typical label applied to Dems?
      Tree-hugger, pascists-wimp, do-gooder, animal rights nut, atheist, abortionist, hippie, homo, unemployed freeloader, welfare queen, Oval Ofice blowjobs, cut-n-run cowards.

      Some slogan about grandchildren is a little weak in contrast.


      •  Do you have grandparents, odenthal? (none)
        Any kids or grandkids?  If not, do you know anybody who does?  Do you (they) think fondly of their progeny? Are any of these people you may know with offspring conservative, fundamentalist, or homophobic even?  Do they think less of their offspring than you or your liberal, childbearing friends (emotionally, I mean)?

        If someone asked you to vote for the future of our country, who would accuse them of being a wimp, other than a psychopath?

        That said, I wouldn't suggest, for instance, that the DNC should not, right now, be producing a devastating series of counter ads to the White Flag ad doing a chainsaw-job on DeLay, Frist, Libby, Cunningham - the GOP lineup of indictees - and hammer them mercilessly.  Or do one on Katrina, or on the Chickenhawks, or, my personal favorite attack ad, the White House Criminal Conspiracie/s/.  ie, let them know you aren't going to take it stoically, like Kerry did. Nor do we (or should we) need to answer the White Flag ad directly.  We need to keep exposing and lacerating their underbellies, ruthlessly.  If we don't strike back with devestating force, well, the White Flag ad is accurate, I guess.

        But, the current skirmish aside, Rippe is right, the Dems need to start immediately to build a positive, cohesive image around a single, unified theme that brings the whole Democratic program together.  I think my slogan does that.

        Jorge's a renegade; there's blood on his hands, oil in his arteries and cyanide inside his glands...

        by nailbender on Sat Dec 10, 2005 at 12:04:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  HOw many voters are grandparents? (none)
          Myself I know a shocking number of childless by choice couples. Many came of age during the Reagan welfare queen era.  Flag burning, access to guns, and the burden of welfare actually  matter to these folks.

          Any political discussions quickly veer into a list of negatives to hang on dems. Negatives stick. They vote against blow jobs, against abortion, against homos, welfare, sex on tv, affirmative action, against, against,...

          They need other negatives to hang on GOP. The katrina story grew legs because of the photos, same for AbuGraib, even Harriet Myers fit her wide-eyed image.

          We have to have an air game.  

          I did not think a single unifying theme was Rippe's point. To Rippe a brand was a promise. It could be many promises. Hopefully coherent enough to attract a majority.  

  •  Pepsi's beating Coke... (none)
    "It's the same reason that Coke beats Pepsi..."

    Pepsi is poised to pass Coke's market cap in the next couple months.

    -What have you got that a man could drink with just a minimum risk of blindness and death.

    by Toadvine on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 02:54:34 PM PST

  •  Part of the Bush brand (none)
    appeals to crude masculine fantasies. And then we wonder why reason and logic don't prevail.

    Girl on the Right

    "I neutered my cat. Now he's French"

    When we fight stuff like this, we often tend to aim a bit too high.

    •  Crude is good (none)
      Why would you think reason and logic hold some sway?  Fantasies can be much more appealing.

      It's some kind of self-delusion to think your way of reason and facts are superior and deserving of success.  They will dance around their crude fantasy and vote your logic into the dustbin.  

      You have to engage them on their level.  Whatever their delusions and fantasies are; you must be willing to enter their world and stroke whatever sensitive zones they are enslaved to.

      It's not pretty, maybe crude and animalistic; but these are their lives; in a liberal's eyes, just as valid as yours. Smile you may learn something.

  •  Good, except one key point is very wrong. (4.00)
    the electorate's #1 issue, the war

    This was not the electorate's #1 issue at the time of last year's election, and I would contend it is not the #1 issue now.

    The #1 issue was, and is, safety. Safety from terrorists, muslims, brown people, liberal judges, gay marriage, fill in the blank - people were sold that they were unsafe after 9/11 and the war (and much more) was sold on the premise of an outcome of safety.

    The hurricanes, scandals, and tax cuts (and the apparent lack of progress in Iraq) provide the Democrats with a golden opportunity to ask the question:

    Are you safe? (cue images of 'Duke' and other GOPers taking bribes related to defense contracts)
    Are you safe? (cue images of unemployment and outsourcing)
    Are you safe? (cue images of homes under water)
    Are you safe? (cue images of attempted looting of social security )
    Are you safe? (cue Medicare Part D)

    I don't leave marks... only impressions. - J.D. Guckert

    by hndrcks on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:00:41 PM PST

    •  I would have to shower after seeing that ad (none)
      It's inane when they do it, and it's inane when we do it.  "Are you safe?"  Fearmongering is precisely what I would expect some vapid marketing hump to suggest because it "worked for the Republicans."  Not only is it evil and sleazy, but it's terribly short-sighted.
  •  Not impossible if we start now (none)
    That was the big goof Armando made in saying Dems could wait until June '06 to come up with an Iraq "product" -- the time between now and then can be spent laying the groundwork for the product by establishing the new Democratic brand.

    I've been wading into these issues recently at Needlenose (here's the Democratic Party post collection), and just yesterday I laid out three principles that I think form the basis of a new Dem brand:

    1.  Real solutions to real problems.
    2.  We're all in this together.
    3.  We work for you.

    IMO, these three principles not only underlie the Democratic approach to policies, they differentiate us from Republicans -- who give us faith-based responses to straw-man issues, try to divide Americans, and pretend they're all-powerful daddies who don't have to answer to anyone.

    Effective re-branding means that Democrats will persuade voters not just that their stands on the issues are preferable to the GOP's, but that their principles that lead to those stands are better.  If Dems start focusing their communications to hammer home the three principles above, I think they can make a lot of progress in establishing their brand by the 2006 elections.

    Anyway, I'll have my own diary (or diaries) on all this soon.  Thanks for raising the issue, Rippe.

  •  It's not the number 1 issue now (none)
    But I think the diarist has a point that images of soldiers coming home is gonna be hard to overcome.

    Having said that, I don't think he's paying enough attention to the corruption or Katrina or, well, you name the issue on which the Republicans are failing so badly.  I don't know that we need to be "winning on the #1 issue" if we're killing 'em on all the rest.  The strategy should be to figure out how to keep the #2,3,4,5, etc issues on the stove despite the number 1....

    I AM paying attention, and I am so fucking outraged I can't see straight. Besides, TORTURE is not a family value!

    by caseynm on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:08:15 PM PST

  •  Too much marketing - not enough product (4.00)
    Good description of the importance of branding, and an important facet of political strategy, but the author misses the more basic and important point. The author seems to share the Bushco hubris that through perception management they in fact control reality.

    But it is not that simple, or that cynical.

    PR can only work if there is a receptive context and the brand or message or perception or whatever is consistent with the underlying substantive reality. Nike couldn't be branded until they produced a quality product. This is not a chicken and egg situation - quality of product comes first.

    This means that lots of preconditions must be met before a brand or message can be received favorably.

    If reality is portrayed to the American people, Bushco and the R's are toast, no matter what the D's do.

    This is illustrated by Katrina/NOLA - the American public saw, on TV, what was happening on the ground. Contradictions and cognitive dissonance with the R "brand" expoloded the myths. People get pissed and feel betrayed when this tension occurs and expectations are vioalted. That's why truth telling and a quality product are so important.

    If events in Iraq continue to deteriorate and are similarly portrayed (or if any of the real life consequnces of any Bush policy are presented by visual media),the same thing will happen, adn the Amercian public will become increasingly estranged from the R party. But D's have to act, not sit on side lines.

    The D's can't proceed under assumptions that a better message, branding, short term marketing plan, or "framing" project will be a silver bullet.

    D's must get back to basics and traditional poltics: 1) truth telling in a way Main street can understand, 2) a progressive policy agenda; and 3) grass roots organizing.

    The D's are doing very little of any of this, and have been outmanuervered at every turn.

    Just one example: when D's had Bush on the ropes with scandal bursting from every corner, their fear of telling the truth and total incompetence allowed Bush to change the subject in the media and actually put the D's on the defensive on the War. Instead of pounding Bush, they let Bidden, H. Clinton, and Kerry botch things. AS a result, he approval ratings are rebounding and were reported today at 40%.

    This was all foreseable. Please don't try to blame that on a 3 year branding plan for '08.  

    •  "fear of telling the truth" (none)
      comes from knowledge of complicity. I agree with many of the democratic ideals, but I can't vote for the "Democrats." You can have my vote when you start a new, third party, with the slogan "The ones who didn't take Enron money."

      ...learn something new every day...

      by nhwriter on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:21:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Too simplistic (none)
    Yes, the "brand" is important. But this single-minded focus is misleading. If we were talking about a parliamentary democracy, I'd be with you. If we were talking about a presidential election, I'd be close to with you.

    But we are talking about a midterm congressional election.

    As always, it will be about several things, in no particular order:

    1. Voter assessment of the president;

    2. The quality of the candidates recruited in individual winnable districts;

    3. Turnout, and more specifically the relative D vs. R composition of that portion of the potential electorate that is motivated to vote.

    Branding of the "out" party fits in somewhere down the list.

    Even in 1994, probably the case of the most "branded" opposition party in US midterm-election history, the other factors listed above were much more important.

    "As every representative is elected to represent one of these two parties, the nation ...appears to consist only of these two parties" -- Henry Droop, 1867

    by Moosa Man on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:13:40 PM PST

  •  Yes, we can win in 06! (none)
    When you send this diary to all those officials, you really should include this one.
  •  Marketing, Branding (4.00)
    This is a very constructive and intelligent post.  Unfortunately it has generated lots of fairly pathetic comments from activists who don't really understand how to win in 06.  As a former Executive Director of the California Democratic Party and someone who has run my own marketing firm in Los Angeles for 32 years, this guy is giving the Kossacks good advice.  But, most won't listen.  Jess Unruh of California used to say that Democrats fight so much because the stakes are so low.  The responses to this post prove it.  They all think that the Democrats will waltz into power based on a Rove indictment or a an Abramoff conviction.  Not true.  You win with a message and a good position or brand.  While we may pick up a seat or two in the Senate or House, 06 will see a death grip on power for the GOP.  They are pretty good, but we are really lame.
  •  Happily, liberal America isn't the Daily Kos, (none)
    and paradoxically, that's a good thing when the Democratic party is being dysfunctional.

    Many Democratic candidates, including Murtha, Feingold, and many brand new candidates, will thrive despite the weakness of the party, simply because their ideas are important and popular.  Many others will depend on the party brand, avoid expressing bold ideas, and blame the party when they fail.

    The Daily Kos has a highly distorted view of the importance of the party to voters.  In that respect this forum is more like the party than like voters - whom the party leadership had already abandoned, especially regarding Iraq.  (Of course, that leadership has just begun a new struggle and might still find its way.)

    Republicans and crypto fascists vote for Their Team, even if the majority or they personally will suffer as a result.  Everyone else votes for the best candidate for themselves or for the country.  So unless you're a Republican or are at the top of a wealthy corporation, you vote Democrat.  Normal people don't care about The Party as a team the way you do.  It's not a football game, it's an election.  They're voting not-Republican.

    What we're seeing now is a Democratic party that's starkly undermining itself and defeating the whole purpose of the party - making itself less than the sum of its parts.  Raising the most money and still losing.  Moreover, it's confusedly turning away from the majority of Americans on Iraq, with many representatives splitting a deluded, racist "stay until peace breaks out or those Arabs are housebroken" minority vote with the Republicans.  Only they can't beat the Republicans for the deluded racist vote.

    Meanwhile, polls now confirm most voters are represented by Feingold and Murtha on Iraq.  Already between 52% and 63% want the troops home by next year - or next week.  But they're not being represented by either party.  Incumbents are held in the lowest esteem; any adequately marketed independent can win easily.

    Curiously, forces like the internet can change the  playing field.  Before long someone will win an election without spending millions or buying a single TV spot, catching fire faster than a JibJab animation.

    But ironically, if you visit the Daily Kos you find many of the folks most terrified of political independence - because we so fear the Republicans.  So even actual geniuses like Georgia10 and Meteor Blades sometimes take the party's side over the majority's, thinking it's politically smart and expedient.

    But if we start believing more in the netroots and less in the party, we'll be able to be honest about when the party isn't serving us.  Then either Democrats will be held more accountable, or we'll be less dependent on the party and accelerate the change that gives the majority and the netroots power.  

    If we get our heads screwed on right, this can happen in plenty of time for 2006.

    •  in case it isn't obvious, (none)
      the vast majority of Americans who don't favor a pullout don't announce they're deluded racists.  

      You can spot them because they say we should "stay until the Iraqis are trained".

      They have convinced themselves that Americans have expertise in how Iraqis can fight and win a guerilla war in Iraq.  Ironically, they're really training the Iraqis how to kill their American invaders at an exponential rate, doubling every 5 months to reach the current level of 700 attacks a week.

      But they're a minority of Americans, and a tiny minority of Democrats - now led by Lieberman.

  •  Have these been used? (none)

    Truth, Justice, and the American Way.





    I think they're golden, babe.

    What will survive of us is love

    by howth of murph on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:22:02 PM PST

  •  brand (none)
    Seems to me that we need to be the party of the troops vs. the party of the military establishment. withdrawing isn't cutting and running, it's protecting the troops. and the DNC needs to promote our "Fighting Dems" nationally. the fact that we have so many more vets running for Congress than the Republicans do needs to be played up.

    "When people think, Democrats win." - Bill Clinton

    by Todd Beeton on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:27:51 PM PST

  •  the budget & deficit (none)
    that is something that every person in the country understands.  to quote a disgruntled ex-republican it's "just stupid" to go from the surplus of '01 to the record deficit we have now.  and they're passing tax cuts as i type.

    everybody understands that if a business, household or any other entity ran their budget the way this administration did, they'd be fucked.  and this issue plays straight to your average apathetic voter who might never understand the intricacies of national budgets, deficits, options, floats, yadda yadda.  but they damn sure understand that they have to quit spending when their account is empty.

  •  Brands, Promise, Ideals and product (none)
    Since we do not have a single product to sell (no presidential candidate) we have to brand our philosophy. Perhaps we can kill several birds with one stone, define our ideals and brand them while we attack the repugs and at the same time attract middle ground socially liberal fiscal conservatives.

    Perhaps a ten commandments theme:

    1. Stand up for our constitutional principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (Truth, Peace and Prosperity)

    2. Keep our faith in the consititutional principles pure. Values like truth, honesty and treating all people as equals are our central tenets.

    3. We must use the principles of our democracy for acts of good will (Iraq/Katrina as examples of using our principles in vain)

    4. We must not let the free market dominate our lives exclusively. We must observe and stand up for our principles. Where they deviate from the wishes of the market, we follow the principles. (War for Oil, Individuals vs. corporations etc.)

    5. Honor your father and your mother (social security and health care, prescription drugs etc.)

    6. You Shall not Murder (Iraq, death penalty, katrina etc.)

    7. You shall not commit adultery (dammit Bill, this one is tougher now....) The marriage here is the contract that the politician makes to represent their constituents and the constitution, not corporations. Corruption and Campaign finance reform are the messages here.

    8. You shall not steal. Corruption, kickbacks etc. Enron, Haliburton and the raping of citizens by corporations run amock and above the law.

    9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Iraq, Plamegate etc. Lies, Lies, Lies

    10. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. Iraq, War for oil, American imperialism.

    I think this would ring true for many religious american's that voted for Bush who mistakenly thought he represented their values.

    So we brand the party ideals, in this example as aligned with the 10 commandments as they apply to the constitution and the representation of the people by the people.

    "lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed"

    by yuriwho on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:29:57 PM PST

  •  Dems have to execute on every level (none)
    ...we have to fight in all 50 states, following Gov. Dean's leadership.  Project the image of strength.

    ...we have to tirelessly promote our sane fiscal and social policies.  Reduce them to simple bullet points and repeat them ad naseum until we are so sick and bored of saying them that we choke.  THEN we will reach the almost deaf GOP voters.

    ...we have to properly utilize, and not allow to go unused, our huge intellectual advantage.  All serious universities are overwhelmingly pro-Democrat.  The GOP think tanks are well funded, but their policy products are self-evidently crap.  Even the Cato Institute was pro-Kerry last year.    

    ...Rippe got it right:  the Dems squander these natural advantages every time by their lack of focus.  IT'S TIME TO FOCUS, PEOPLE.  The time of meandering, idealistic policy debates is over.  The GOP has the money and political talent to bury our message unless we are absolutely Borg-like machines, who fight every Swiftboating scheme within the same news cycle.  The GOP needs to know they will get clobbered for their lies with painful surety.  I want to see a war room that would make Attila the Hun proud.  

  •  There's a lot of anger here (none)
    so let's consider a brand (promise) that works and appeals to voters of all colors:


    I know it's not a corporate brand, but it sure does sell produce, shampoo, and hand lotion. It promises healthyness, naturalness, etc. For consumers, there's also the feeling that buying this product is also better for the earth, even if you bypass the farmstand down the street to by something flown across the country. And if you don't think it's a brand, go look at the agribusiness products packeged up and offered at your local grocer. Dole's begun selling organic. Check out the organic products being produced by the health and beauty industry.  

    One of my favorite brands is that of L.L. Bean, a company of my native state. Their brand? Quality. Outdoor clothes have to last. So when you go walk through the malls, and you see racks of junky products that are barely better, if they're better, then the junk for sale at WalMart, and then you look at that Bean catalog with it's promise of jackets that will protect from blizzards and pants that will stand up to climbing Katahdin, you feel like you're buying quality. And because the company has backed it's promise up witn a no-questions-asked guarantee, we still trust them.

    BushCo ran on two promises-- integrity (00) & safe (04).

    They've broken both promises.

    Don't think of the brand as the label, think of it as the promise. What do Dems promise? And what promises can they deliver on?


    A better world?

    Bigger paychecks?

    Better health care?

    Responsive government?




    If it were easy, folks like Rippe wouldn't be in demand, wouldln't be getting the big bucks.

  •  Here are mine: (none)
    On Iraq: COMPETENT MANAGEMENT.  Everybody knows the GOP knows how to campaign but not how to govern--including Republicans.

    On all other fronts:

    1. Accountable Government

    2. The Common Good

    3. Equal Opportunity

    4. The Right to Privacy

    5. Respected Abroad
    •  Can campaign but not govern (none)
      I think you hit on a good message right there.  They can campaign, but they can't govern.  They can get elected but they can't lead.  They can get the job but they can't do the job.  They can spin, but they can't deliver.

      They can't be trusted.

      We also have to just expose the pure folly of these Republicans, like Jon Stewart does.  If this is done right, it undermines their credibility and affects their message machine - makes everything they say less effective.

      I know we have to sell our own brand and I don't care for negative campaigns but there is so much material, we've got to find ways to do it - more creative ways.  I'm hoping we can sell what we are by what we do in the next year, and sell what they are in carefully crafted messages that expose them.

      "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

      by joanneleon on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:34:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  a far as the Promise--the brand--is concerned (none)
    it needs to be like a credit card.  Transparent and Secure.

    Americans today are uncertain about their future.  They thought they knew what they were getting from Bush, but they didn't.

    The Dem message needs to be that with us the voter will get what they had under Clinton: peace, prosperity, and economic and personal security.


  •  This was preciesly the issue that sunk Kerry... (none)
    (Leaving aside, as you do in your post, the idea that the election was somehow stolen.)

    As I have noted many times here, what the public was looking for in a president in `04 was stability and a sense of security.

    What they got from George Bush were the same three platitudes he had been uttering since September 2001. (Doesn't even make any difference what the platitutes were/are, as I'll explain further down.)

    As the election approached, polls found that more than 50% of Americans thought Bush was doing a poor job handling both the economy and Iraq.

    Yet he still won.

    How can this be?

    As noted, the electorate was seeking a sense of security and stability. That was the emotional hook of 2004.  And that is precisely what Republican strategists had Bush delivering the same simple phrases over and over for three years.

    We grew tired of them and mocked them.  But the other side knew better.

    And that is also why Republican strategists hung the flip-flop label on Kerry (which Kerry fed with his own, long-winded explanations of everything from his IWR vote to what he would do with healthcare).

    So even though a slim majority of Americans thought Bush was an incompetent dolt (judging by poll numbers), they still voted for him. They beleived they knew where he stood (as phony as it was and continues to be).

    Simple as that.

    (I'm in the business, too.)

    Visit Satiric Mutt -- my contribution to the written cholesterol now clogging the arteries of the Internet.

    by Bob Johnson on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:42:11 PM PST

  •  One Lesson For the Democrats (none)
    If I could speak one line of truth to everyone with any sort of power in the Democratic Party, it would be this.

    You don't have to out run the bear.

    That is to say, if the Republicans are able to convince voters that Democrats are worse, nothing else matters.  

    We will never regain power until our campaigns can take the battle to the GOP and beat them, straight up, as the party voters trust to govern.  

    If could be the Apocalypse but one party is better and one is worse, well, you know what happens.

    Remember, we can't run Generic Democrat.  We have to run real candidates, and they have to win.  And if you want to look at examples of what I mean when I talk about parties unable to capitalize on voter dissatisfaction, look at the Canadian Tories and the British LibDems.  Both should have made big gains in the past year and a half, but neither did, with the Tories again looking at another electoral defeat despite widespread dislike and discontent with the ruling Liberals.

    We have to beat the Republicans.

    We have to beat the Republicans.

    We have to beat the Republicans.

  •  Hire John Stewart (none)
    I am SERIOUS.

    He can deliver a serious, biting rendition of the Republican assholes, and lay them out like no one else can.

    All we need to do is show every single dickhead Republican doing exactly what they do, and add a small amount of satirical commentary.

    Is it too negative to show people being jerks?

    Maybe they shouldn't be jerks then.

    Every [weapon] signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by racerx on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:47:16 PM PST

  •  Jeebus (none)
    just tell folks the truth.
     say it like it is.

    you want services, you pay taxes.
    you want good schools, you pay taxes.

    gwb has made the us, the world and the globe LESS safe.

    tell the truth.
    no bs
    no branding
    just make f'n sense

  •  It is not the brand..... (none)
    I dont think it is about branding.  Politics are local. It is about choosing good candidates.

    No matter how good the brand is,  and I think people have an idea about Democrats--in polls usually associated with economic and domestic issues like health care, jobs, social security, etc.  it is getting good candidates who will articulate Democratic Party philosophy.

    Stop Corporate Influence; buy DEMOCRACY BONDS!!!

    by timber on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:52:30 PM PST

  •  Terrific diary. (none)
    You know your shit and what you say makes alot of sense. However...

    McDonalds can make the coolest commercials of all time, but if the media puts out credible reports of widespread food poisoning and link it to their restaurants, their sales will plummet.

    Think Iraq. Bush will no doubt attempt to pull out troops out this summer. There are two problems with that strategy.

    1. This will certainly lead to increased violence in the short term, at least in the Sunni triangle. We don't have enough troops as it is to deal with the Sunni guerrillas. Troop withdrawls may well backfire, assuming nothing more than the status quo remaining in Iraq.

    2. The Nightmare Scernario happens. The Shia - having solidified political power - form an alliance amoungst themselves, enlist help from Iran, perhaps even make a separate peace with the Sunni and proceed to kick our asses out of their country.

    It has long been known that the true reason for Bush invading Iraq was a desire to establish a permanent military presense there and control the nations' vast resources. It was the biggest miscalculation he and his advisors made in thinking this was possible. It is not. The Shia are not stupid, they know Bush has no intention of leaving. Our own intelligence suggests very strongly that there is a strong desire throughout Iraq to "drive out the occupiers".

    Only the vaccum of leadership and the ethnic infighting have prevented anyone from harnessing this. That may very well soon change. If there is a major shift in the political situation in Iraq next year, and there likely will be, all bets are off. The US public wants a withdrawl from Iraq, but it does not want to see our forces driven out. If we have to bug out, it will be humiliating. We will lose all our bases, including the massive embassy in Baghdad. Think Iran 1979.

    However, this only underscores the wisdom of what you are saying. It is foolish for Dems to not demand immediate withdrawl. It is insanity for Dems to pander to the right on this issue. Hillary Clinton is a dumb bitch. Come to think of it, so is John Kerry. Those who buy into this "Stand up/Stand down" nonsense - they are all dumb bitches, each and every one.

    It is all fine and good to hammer the GOP on social security. We stood united against them there, so we can do that. However, Social Security isn't the big issue in 2006. Iraq is. We neer more Jack Murthas, Paul Hacketts and Nancy Pelosis. We need to push forward our Feingolds and Boxers. They have credibility as they had the wisdom to vote against this madness from the beginning.

    Still, this diary is a good start. Lets go forward from here. And lets put to bed the silly notion that we don't need a party brand. Diversity of opinion sounds good in theory, but it is not how you win elections.

    Oh yeah, one more thing...

    Fuck you, Joe Lieberman.

    "I am not a crook" - The Honourable Richard M. Nixon

    by tricky dick on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 03:56:05 PM PST

  •  Yes, but... (none)
    ...while some marketing concepts apply, when talking politics it's not exactly the same as marketing a product and service for profit.

    You make the mistake here in assuming that politics is exactly the same as marketing toothpaste. There are similarities, but they are two different things.

    First, and foremost, you seem to overestimate the value that Americans give to the party "brands."
    While there are some who are die-hard loyalists to the two major party "brands," most people are not, but are, in fact, very skeptical of both of those brands. That's where the complications set in and the differences between marketing 101 and politics 101 take divergent paths.

  •  I disagree with your premise that Republicans (none)
    stand for courage, strength, heroism or whatever you claim the people of America think of when we think of Republicans or even when Republicans think of themselves.  

    I would say their recent ad campaign has been more to the tune of lying, corruption, scandal, greed, deception and more lying.

    Yes, the Democrats have their problems, and some here have spoken eloquently about our being trapped in a two-party system or winner take all system.

    Maybe the reality is that this country has been fortunate in the past to have had good people to have gotten us through past predicaments (I know we have done wrong. It's just that isn't my point). This is kind of sad if you think about it.

    Ultimately, we have to find, and elect, good people across all levels of government to either bring us back to when things at least seemed better (the 90's) or to a brighter future. It just has to be one or the other.

    Of course, we could just stay the course.

  •  Not quite right. (none)
    Nobody in their right mind will vote for the national Republican Party.  We don't really have to worry about that.  The people who are out of their minds are rather hard to win over, but it is worth trying, since there are so many of them.

    On the other hand, I fully expect large numbers of votes to be stolen or lost in electronic voting machines, and major voter suppression operations, and generally other kinds of election fraud and manipulation, and we need to push hard to stop this kind of stuff before the elections if we actually want to win anything.

  •  Foot in mouth.... (none)
    Having a strong 'brand' is probably important.  I just don't trust the Dem leadership to deliver it convincingly.

    It's funny -- there's such an overwhelming mistrust of politicians and political process in this country that the idea of a truly honest politician who is concerned, compassionate, and dedicated to cutting through the BS to really make government work for the people is best represented in FICTION (Mister Deeds).  But despite the fact that the voting public says they want politicians to tell the truth, they don't seem to really like the truth once it's told.  

    President Carter told America the truth, and they despised him for it.  I think Jimmy Carter may be the most decent and honest President this country has ever had.  One-termer; the country hated him.  

    Yet these same Americans worship Ronald Reagan for telling little white lies and fairy tales -- he spent his entire presidency telling us we were great and noble and generous and powerful and beautiful and honest and decent and compassionate and hard-working and sensible and intelligent.  Shining city on the hill.  Greatest country in the world.  Can-do.  We want to believe that.  Many of us have to believe that.  Sure, it was mostly pablum, but the country scarfed it up greedily and wanted more.  Now they want to put him on Mt. Rushmore.

    We've got to have a message.  We've got to have a brand.  We've got to sell it competently.  The party needs an overwhelmingly dynamic spokesperson to do that.  I love Howard Dean -- but he turns a lot of people off.  He's all substance, but without the right kind of style.  What the Democratic party desperately needs is a spokesperson who can not only tell the truth... it needs a spokesperson who can deliver difficult and painful messages to the country in inspirational ways.

    That's not the way I think it should be -- not the way I want in my heart for it to be.... but I think that's the way it is.

    You know... like Dr. King.  Or Barbara Jordan.  Or Bobby Kennedy.  Obama, anybody?  


    •  You got it right sir! (none)

      People don't want to hear the truth, they can't handle the truth.

      And that's why the RNC's latest "Defeat and Retreat" campagin will work. They will not appreciate Dean's message because they can't handle the hard fact that Iraqis do not appreciate the presence of American troops there. The troops for example...they believe they are doing a lot of good -- opening schools, sewers etc.

      The Repuglicans figured this out a long time ago. That's how they became the party of tax cuts. You think Americans want to be bothered with the guy with malignant tumors and no health insurance? Or the ghetto teenager who had to drop out to get a job?

  •  Very important diary (none)

    The electorate is ripe for picking. There is a lot of consernation over Brownie/Myers (culture of cronyism), over corruption, over Iraq.

    What Dems have to do is to build a BRAND...a brand that the 2006 electorate will buy. This brand has to position itself as the brand for change, the brand that is going to undo the wrongs taking place since 2000.

    As the ad-guru wrote earlier: your product doesn't have to be the best, the perception does.

    Btw: Remember this: the GOP has no morals, no values, no shame: don't be surprised if Bush abandons Iraq in summer 2006 to win in November 2006.

  •  need to tackle one issue voters / talking heads (none)
    The religious voters were co-opted by the Repubs so they could do their dirty work on the environment and the tax structure.
    One issue voters probably don't follow the other issues.
    And the talking heads jump into action to discredit and distort anything that Dems say. Just go to to see the extent of this organized effort.
    Only us wonks realize the extent of the misstatements.
  •  Democrats win global conflicts (none)
    First World War

    Second World War

  •  Finally, somebody said it loud and clear (none)
    As a diarist rightly pointed out yesterday, the sheer image of troops getting off airplanes, stepping on American soil, hugging their loved ones and kissing the ground will be more than enough for consumers to forgive whatever doubts they had about the Republican brand.  And it will happen, folks.  Those troops will come home, in large numbers, right before next year's elections.  Guaranteed.

    I posted a diary on this very key pressing issue yesterday titled October Suprise? simulating the political implications of a troop withdrawal on the eve of the 2006 Election.

    Rippe has woefully reminded the Democrats' kryptonite-lack of a coherent and unified message, especially on Iraq.  

    Excellent diary Rippe, the DNC should hire you as a strategist?!      

    A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. - Edward Abbey

    by optimusprime on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:51:06 PM PST

    •  Yes, exactly. (none)
      It's going to be Mega Mission Accomplished, and I'm afraid the GOP marketing machine will sell enough voters on this to win. Again. It won't even be a victory, just a retreat, but like the first Mission Accomplished, this won't be obvious to enough people until after the election. Only later will it become obvious that the Middle East is an even bigger mess as a result of our meddling than when we started, and the huge cost of this war accomplished nothing. And the lies that got us into this war may never be fully recognized.

      Just as in 2004, when I hoped that voters couldn't possibly fall for Bush again, they did.

      I hope it doesn't turn out this way, I hate to be pessimistic, but after seeing how 2004 turned out, I do have to worry.  We do have our work cut out for us.

      This is important, because anything short of a complete rout in the election will be seen by the Neocons as an affirmation of their strategy, and will set the stage for more of the same.

  •  You're forgetting a couple of things (none)
    1) Brands can be destroyed. Sometimes by their own hand. Sunbeam? Firestone? Woolworth's?

    2)And even though polls show a public distrust for the Republican brand, consumers won't SWITCH brands unless they're convinced the alternative will be better.

    And you diary titles assumes that the Dems will not do that, which remains to be seen. You're right, they won't vote Dem only becasue they're fed up. But when a consumer is fed up, they'll seek an alternative. That is the opportunity here. Whether the Dems seize that opportunity is up to them.

    Now, here's a part you've got really right: the uphill battle is that over the last 30 years a "hierarchy" has taken hold in many voters minds that, "However bad the GOP is, the Dems are worse, by definition." That meme needs to be smashed, and smashed head-on.

  •  Don't forget to attack their brand (none)
    Which is fundamentally: Stingy. Republicans tried to run the war on the cheap, and they short-changed the Katrina Victims. In both cases, not enough body armor, and third-rate FEMA response, their was a low quality outcome: death.

    Republican = pinto.

  •  Capital One Marketing - Market What We're Not (none)
    I think the current situation calls for some special  marketing techniques.

    Capital One's ad campaign sells what they are not by depicting their uncaring, incompetent (fictitious) competition.

    The first commercials ("always say NO") were really effective.  Now they have gone over the top and I don't find the ads as good but in the beginning they really were.  They combined humor, sarcasm and something different.  They differentiated themselves by exposing their competitors' stereotyped flaws, and then even the competitor's own employees turn on  them in the end of the ad, and come to the realization that Capital One, is better.

    "Let him that would move the world first move himself." --Socrates

    by joanneleon on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 04:57:05 PM PST

    •  Great Idea, but unlike capital one, it doesnt work (none)
      in politics

      You show a whole bunch of cheap-suite, grifters, all  in a room with the republican elephant in the room.

      "Well, our war on terror lines are used up"

      "Can't fool the people on no child left behing anymore, or healthy forests, or clean air"

      One shouts out, "How about making up another war!"

      "Grumble Grumble"

      Then WHAM! Vote to kick out the corruption...Vote Democrat

      Nobody is going to buy into that. Its not as simple as coke vs. pepsi, or nike vs. rebok. How does an issue like abortion have to do with branding, and quality control? Or taxes, or death penatly, or security, or the economy?! Politics is not marketing. You can't take the Fetus Challenge at your local mall! And you can say "Leiberman is Republican-lite, same great taste, less filling."

      I've killed people for less...

      by patsprouseyo on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:48:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Want to know why Dems can't brand themselves (none)
    as a vital, effective alternative to the Republicans? Because they aren't. I know that is a Naderesque thing to say, but it is true.

    The only valid alternative to the Republicans would just be too much of a challenge to our entire system.

    I don't see the Republicans losing power until things get really dark for this country. And by then, our society will be so unravelled that who knows what will take their place.

    Sorry. I am bleakly pessimistic tonight.

  •  To the extent that it is in fact a question of (none)
    branding, Democrats need to recognize that they can't repeal the events of 9/11/2001, and that there will be no "return to normal". Before the events of September 11th, the Republican Party was going the way of the Whigs, and the Clinton-era third way (despite Mr. Bush's "victory" in 2000) looked triumphant. If there had been no Islamist terrorist threat the Democrats would have swept the 2002 midterms and probably won back the White House in 2004 with someone like John Edwards.

    But alas...

    If Democrats do not begin to realize - more than four years after 9/11 - that the 1990s are gone forever, and that their only hope of becoming the national majority party in the next decade or two is to displace the GOP as the party of crisis, they will remain a 45-48% party. I confess not to having the slightest idea what to say and do about Iraq, but that doesn't mean political and economic reform in the Arab-Muslim world should not still become the centerpiece of the Demoratic foreign policy agenda; it should. But being the party of crisis also means being the party of sweeping domestic reform as well. In periods of lasting national peril (the last one was the depression and World War II) Americans want comfort food politics and policies, not to be hung out to dry by corporations and other special interests.

    The trouble of course is that we're on the verge of one of the greatest demographic shifts in world history, and New Deal-style socialism is as a political and economic and fiscal matter just not the answer this time. What Democrats need is a rationalist program for national reform and renewal, speaking to what remains of America's populist, nationalist instincts, while pursuing more "radical centrist" policies. You see some of this in McCain's "national greatness conservatism" but in practice he's usually just a shill for the plutocratic right. In practice it would mean among other things a largescale program for energy independence, cuts in the federal bureaucracy, a national healthcare system that introduces real market forces (as opposed to rationing), a repeal of the banruptcy bill and new overtime rules, an amnesty for illegal immigrants already here and curbs on further illegal immigration, a simplified, more progressive tax code (perhaps with a progressive consumption tax at its center), reform of international institutions, etc.

    The Democrats can brand away all they want but until they recognize that a) the world really did change after 9/11 and the broad center of the electorate needs to hear their program for reform in the Arab-Muslim world and b) the American middle class doesn't trust them on taxes (the middle class sees Democrats as shills for public employee unions [and not just the good ones] and increasingly for corporations as well) they probably won't become the national majority party and probably don't deserve to.

    "The cynics are right nine times out of ten." Mencken

    by thebluenomad on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:26:21 PM PST

    •  Bush was lucky (none)
      911 is ancient history. It only lives because Bush keeps breathing life into it. Without another attack it fades. With another attack he fades. Either way he is done.

      My reaction to "everything changed on 911" is -bullshit. We had death and destruction, open warfare on our soil before; and will likely again.

      The "everything changed" line a kind of hubris that we live in special and unique times.  Civil liberties, habeus corpus, 500 years of western progress is dismissed as "quaint", because 20 guys with box cutters got lucky. More likely 2 generations of conservatives saw an opportunity for a "facists gone wild" party. 8 years to try to reverse a century of progressive policies. For me the WWII after-glow has faded, cards redealt.

      I don't beleive islamo-anything is particularly important. Without the oil we would simply refuse them access to airplanes and be done with them. The mortal threat is lurking in China and India. Half the world's population with the will and  human resources may soon overwhelm us. Especially with us distracted in Iraq and crawling to god for deliverance.

      I don't disagree with your calls for energy independence, health care, and renewal of all sorts. It's the 911 as fin-de-seicle, watershed and reorganizing principle I find ego-centered.    

      There is a swirl of enemies, issues, foreign and domestic, as always. Don't think history changed in your lifetime, it may have lurched a bit. Keep a grip.

      •  You write: (none)
        "I don't beleive islamo-anything is particularly important."

        But it isn't what you or I or other liberal Democrats think it is what the American people, and particularly the broad center of the electorate thinks.

        The statistical probability of dying in a terrorist attack is only slightly better than being mauled by a deranged cow but you're going to convince the American people of that, and there is a chance - however distant at this point - that non state actors will eventually get their hands on a nuclear weapon.

        Political reform in the Arab-Muslim world is still our best hope of diminishing this threat, and an essential part of the agenda of any party who aspires to majority status in the coming years. It can also be used to successfully advance many liberal domestic initiatives.

        "The cynics are right nine times out of ten." Mencken

        by thebluenomad on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 08:38:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Essentially a slave to W's mistake (none)
          Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. Turks, Iranians, Chechnyans.  Nukes in Pakistan, India, Korean for sale, Iranians in few years. A sea of oil.

          What are the threats.

          1.Some raghead wanders into Manahattan with a nuke on his back.

          2.Oil fields shut down.  

          3.Chinese, Indians, Europeans continue to invest in their economies. We languish.

          If 1. happens; the shit hits the fan. Staying the course may actually destabilize Pakistan sending its nukes rolling around. Creating more martyrs. Toss up as whether staying increases or decreases chances.

          1. Turks are looking for a fight. Especially if Europe rejects them. If we pull out quickly, civil war in Iraq is unavoidable. Iran goes in. Kuwait/SaudiArabia need protection. We invest to break the oil habit.

          2. Most likely. American investment class cashes out, tax free. American workers face global wage rates under control of foreign bankers.

          The martyrs come from SaudiArabia and Pakistan. Per AbuArdvark we have ro reform these places!Will they hate us enough to die if we aren't there?

          Draw down slowly.  Bring em Home by Election06. This is an easy sell to the broad electorate.  Dems have to demand it.


          •  You talk about the risks of destabilizing (none)
            the Arab-Muslim world, but fail to mention the risks of continuing to enable the present order. I agree the risks of reform are significant, and the worst case scenario is a generation of bloodletting to undo the geographical fictions otherwise known as many of the nation-states of the Arab-Muslim world, a kind of Yugoslavia writ large.

            But what we learned on 9/11 more than anything else is that continuing to run an imperial protection racket in the oil rich Arab world would now endanger our own national security. Democratization and liberalization in the postmodern age is a dangerous business in ways almost wholly unrecognized (at least out loud) by the neoconservatives and liberal hawks, but - you know - we are "no longer at ease in the old dispensation". The only way out of the tunnel now is further into the tunnel. The entrance has collapsed behind us.

            I'm not suggesting we invade anyone, even if we had the military resources at hand. But reform must continue for the sake of our own security.

            "The cynics are right nine times out of ten." Mencken

            by thebluenomad on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 10:33:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  The tunnel of hate. (none)
              We have to drag how many, how far?  Talk about white man's burden; but with a bomb to our heads.  

              911 did not teach me that we have to reform the Middle East. It taught me to keep an eye on Arabs.

              I think you over estimate our capabilities.

              We have tunnels at home to pass through. The baby boom is checking out soon, and bill's gonna be big.  

              This is nuts. These people want to go back to the dark ages, the Caliphate. Iran went Islamo 25 years ago and is still running backwards.  The Ottomans ran it for what, 500 years?  Americans won't and can't spend a generation babysitting Arabs.  


              •  Arabs don't want to be babysat; they want (none)
                the chance to have some control over their political, economic, and cultural destiny. Might some people in some places elect Islamists? Sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean Iranian-style theocracy, and even in the worst case scenario democracy gives Islamists a chance to express their political passions in electoral politics rather than by flying airplanes into our respective places of work.

                I agree that we are driving headlong into the fiscal apocalypse, but as Mrs. Thatcher used to say T.I.N.A, as in there is no alternative.

                "The cynics are right nine times out of ten." Mencken

                by thebluenomad on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 11:31:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Outside the box (none)
                  No alternative. Shows a lack of imagination.

                  How does our Iraq occupation provide some level of control for Arabs? The good example of Iraq democracy is supposed to topple Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan?  Make the oppressed in these countries thank the US for the paradise in Bagdad. Where have all cold-eyed realists gone?  Gone to neocon fantasyland every one.  

                  We need Saudi Oil. Israel needs Egypt as in. Pakistan has the bomb and India gaining strength.

                  W has re-defined victory, giving the Sunnis, Kurds, Shiites, Syrians and Iranians veto over our success.  We were a military power, overuse as IED fodder has weakened that.  We had credibility, the WMD lies trashed that. We had moral authority, Abu Graib and the CIA camps have weakened that.  

                  Staying the course, deeper into this tunnel, is simply tunnel-vision.  Murtha's draw down is outside the box. Give our greatest asset, the military, some room to maneuver, over the horizon.  Let the Iraquis see if they can do it.  If not, then we can always go back. It's not like we need a pretext anymore.  

                  As for Thatcher, dazzling or baffling Reagan with 4 letter acronyms was childs play.

  •  Wheerrp (sound of brakes)...Hold on here! (none)
    First, this diary is based on the presumption that we few, we happy few, we band of brothers, have (insert econ/marketing/branding term)perfect information. Not only is this a dangerous presumption, but, its a fatally false presumption. I doubt any of us (maybe one or two) know Dean's timetable for releasing a cohesive platform for '06, or Pelosi's '06 House strategy, or the DCCC expenditure strategy.

    Second, you are over simplifying marketing and politics, dumbing it down, which is a mistake, most of the readers on dKos are more than capable to comprehend the finer points. But, your over simplification poses more problems. First, politics does not produce a product or service (arguable the representation is a service, but that really is a stretch, since unlike other civil servants, their performance of the service is often to the detriment of many of the voters, or customers) Politics is more in line with Edward Bernays, not Peter Drucker. The methods are very different. Marketing overlaps into PR, and Politics overlaps into both marketing and PR, but none are one in the same, or a subgrouping. The PR of politics is less about impressions and exposure, and closer to the "moment of connection." Emotion is a great example that you bring up. Marketing has millions of chances to elicit an emotion; commercials, print ads, packating, jingles, catch phrases, etc. All of these exposures have a shot at eliciting the desired emotion, and none have to be perfect, through exposure, they roll the dice that at some point, enough of the consumer base will have the emotion elicited through a particular number of impressions. PR in politics is very different however, the politicians have one shot at eliciting the reaction from allvoters/consumers. Its a much higher bar of achievement. The Republicans have begun to incorporate marketing into their machine, through outlets like the Washington Times, Rush, O'Reilly, etc...but the problem with that is obvious, they are preaching to the choir, selling to the converted, there is very little gain if any in the size of their base voter/consumer. Its their PR that has been so successfull; having Bush "fly" to the aircraft carrier, Condi Rice's "mushroom cloud" "With us, or against us" etc. None of that has built a brand for the Republican party, and much of that PR has been revealed to be naked, and the voters, as the polls have been illustrating since 2001, are slowly becoming less succeptible to the Bush Administrations's PR; fool me once...

    In short, yes, Bush can be looked at as a product, but its not accurate, the rules of the game are different, and the relationship between the politician and the voter, are not the same as that between the product and the consumer. "I appreciate" your analogy, I just don't believe it is accurate.

    I've killed people for less...

    by patsprouseyo on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:28:14 PM PST

  •  Effective Short, Messages, NOT Lies, are (none)
    not Democrats.

    I skimmed lakoff in feb of 2005 and I was furious. first, a trip in the wayback machine.

    When I was a 4.25/ hour cook in 1982, at age 22, and the financial aid I relied on to go to college was getting axed up ( I grew up on welfare and nobody had money to give me for college)

    I couldn't believe the huge disconect between the people I worked with and the affluent people I politicked with in Boston - I remember how in 1982, or 1980, I couldn't soundbite against Raygun's f*ing lie soundbites, all I could do was drone on with some tome excerpts about why Raygun was wrong and we were rigtht ...

    I have had the same experience EVERY election year since 1980, and this state of affairs continues to this day!

    what have the DC Dems done with Murtha's manna from heaven message?  WHY were the fools blindsided by willie horton in 2004 - oops, I mean swift boats?

    What p'eed me about lakoff was, here was this berkely looking proff who'd really nailed some of the reasons we were losing, AND

    here were these zillions of DC Dems making more than 75 and 85 and 95% of the population to lose constantly.

    and not ONLY did they lose, but, they took the few hours and the few bucks of tens of millions fellow citizens, after burning through hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle,

    BUT, they LOST, they LOST elections, they LOST on financial aid and the right to choose and health care and and and and ... AND

    AND they wouldn't / couldn't fight fire with fire cuz they were so busy acting smarter and more selfless and more noble,

    because soundbites are short lies, albiet effective, therefore it is impossible to create short effective messages around the truth.

    If it ain't terabytes of tomes, it ain't from the Dems.  

    what pissed me off about lakoff was, the guy who figured out the problem, I problem I half figured out as a f*ing cook, this guy was some freaking hippy looking dude in Berkely !!

    at least it should have been 1 of those 6 or 7 figure high flying political geniuses in DC?

    I have HAD to conclude that the inability to brand, to have effective messages, has exactly 3 causes:

    1. the DC Dems are incompetent,
    2. the DC Dems are corrupt,
    3. some combination of both.

    btw, I like lakoff and I like howard. most of the rest of the parasites should be fired yesterday.

    IF the Dems win much in '06, it will only be because the other guys are so incredibly, appallingly bad.


    Grassroots Organizing Should Be for The Community, By The Community - NOT for "Leaders"

    by rmdSeaBos on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:30:23 PM PST

  •  We are not selling Nike for fuck's sake... (4.00)
    For fuck's sake!  As the Pillsbury Dough Boy once said, the fucking marketing analogy to politics is overused, exagerrated, and at times, even fucking dangerous.  

    Sure there's some truth to it.  You can see similar analogy implied in George Lakoff's Don't Think of An Elephant, for fucking instance, but that book is a sophisticated --and helpful--analysis of how politics actually works.  In that book there's actually some content--as in what exactly unites us as a fucking political party? And what is it that unites fucking conservatives?  

    And what is the deal with the idea that democrats are a "brand" ?Are we run by a mindless corporation too that can simply ask marketers to redefine us in 16 months like a new candy bar?

    No. That's fucking marketer goblety-gook bullshit.  This is the party of Jefferson, FDR, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, and the legacies of all of the people who fought and died for their principles.  Is the fucking Constitution a brand now too?

    By the way, I am 100 percent for the very simple kernal of an idea in here--the need for a message of unity on Iraq.  In fact, we have it:  most democrats are in agreement that we need a clear exit strategy from the Bush administration, and we need it now.  The few democrats who disagree don't speak for the Democratic party or for the majority of Americans who see the war was a big fuckin mistake.  

    Democrats are the party of educational opportunity, social security, diplomacy, sex, music, pleasure, tolerance, the environment, etc.  Sure it's a mish-mosh, but how cool is that?

    I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

    by markymarx on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:30:27 PM PST

    •  Agreed! (none)
      Can politicians USE marketing? Yes!

      Is politics marketing? No!

      Can Dem's win without a direct mail campaign, corporate spokesperson, cute mascott, and catchy jingle? It will be tough, but hey, if Clorox can have 100% brand awareness without them, why can't we Democrats?!?! (for those who take things way to seriously, that was a joke)

      I've killed people for less...

      by patsprouseyo on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:39:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  a fucking cute mascott? (none)
        I am all for that!

        Let's about

        I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

        by markymarx on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:57:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  one T in mascot (none)
          for fuck's sake

          I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking. --Cartoon Dog, The New Yorker

          by markymarx on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:59:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Hey (none)
          we both got mascot wrong...

          But just FYI the donkey and the elephant are symbols as in trademarks, or logos, not mascots

          And although the DNC owns the donkey emblem, as far as I know, the Democratic Party does not have the donkey as the "official" symbol, where as the Republican Party does have the elephant as their official symbol

          Anyone know any more about that?

          I've killed people for less...

          by patsprouseyo on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 07:00:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  To one whose only too is a hammer... (none)
      ...everything looks like a nail.

      And to the arrogant marketters out there, everyone of us looks like a sap with votes to spend.

      Give it a rest. You do not know why I cast my votes the way I do! Stop pretending that your collection of snake-oil skills is the equivalent  of a science, because it most assuredly is not.

      I have not voted for Democrates just because they were more packaging than principle. But I have always voted for Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders even if I didn't always agree with them, because they never enslaved their souls to the corporate mindset that this diary espouses.

  •  Flawed assumptions (none)
    I'm surprised that you spent all this time talking reasonably about branding and the difficult of taking a brand upstream, or shaking the entrenched image of the brand leader.

    Still, it is done, and surprisingly often. It's just that a brand is usually rejected in favour of a product, even a generic one, if the value proposition is better. Why should I buy Tylenol if I can buy generic acetaminophen at 1/3 the price?

    Well, some buyers will be swayed by the red label and name recognition. But as the value proposition favours the challenger, more and more consumers will switch. Provided the challenger lives up to advertising, the momentum continues to gain. And what is the product that either party is selling? A vision of America.

    In this case the GOP is most emphatically not Tylenol versus an untried generic. No, in this case the GOP is rather more like Vioxx, a successful but dangerously misunderstood drug, which rather than a panacea offered death disguised as pain killer. Actually, the analogy is more apt than I realized...

    So all the Dems really need to offer is three things: a vision for America (almost any will do); a promise to tell the truth (and tell the truth about GOP corruption); and integrity and backbone (which is about standing up for that vision, even if Joementum thinks its bad). If they do this, there's no problem, and when those troops come home (which I agree will be timed nicely), they can then claim credit for bringing them home. However, if they won't stand up and be counted, there's no hope. Ever.

    I also, by the way, think you're way too critical of efforts up to now. They've come a long way since November 2004, and the problem was not lack of attention to planning, but rather the deep hole that the Liebermans, Millers, Daschles, McAuliffes and Clintons had dug them prior to then. The real problem is the lack of attention to integrity between 2000 and 2004. Since 2004 they've been surprisingly effective.

    -8.38, -4.97 "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

    by thingamabob on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:58:23 PM PST

  •  Rebuild America (none)
    At a gut level many Americans feel that our country's underpinnings are eroding. "Rebuild" reinforces the emotional impact that something has gone terribly awry while conveying a positive message for Dems.

    I don't think there is any reason for the Dem message on Iraq to be so scattered. Nearly all generals, including the ones in Iraq say that there are no military solutions for an insurgency, only political ones. If Dems hammer on aggressive political and international engagement to safeguard America's security the Republicans can't attack the message without attacking the military. That trumps Republican's treason card.

    It also surprises me that more Dems aren't hammering more on the point that the only big winners in the war on Iraq are Republican Halliburton-type cronies making out like bandits with no bid contracts at the expense of both Americans and Iraqi's.

    I'm a lifelong resident of fire engine red Kansas and I routinely talk politics with people who are persuadable as well as those who are permanently brain damaged from the Kool-Aid. They all hate the greedy contractors and even the stupidest John Wayne, UN-hating hawks are shockingly open to the idea of aggressive political/engagement in the specific context of leveraging our military power.

    There has also been a sea change in attitude here about Republican competence post-Katrina which has blown off a lot of rose-colored glasses concerning the war in Iraq and governance in general. Many, many more people are receptive to the ideas that Democrats are more competent running government and holding it accountable.

  •  This means Dean (none)
    just gave the GOP the biggest Christmas present possible, a negative brand I.D. for the dems, perfect to contrast GOP branding. Maybe dems just want to get closer in '06 and not win it all so the GOP is still stuck with the power but unable to do much with it. Inotherwords still stuck with their own mess. This would set us up for '08 if we're smart enough to do the branding of the party right by then.

    What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? unknown

    by moon in the house of moe on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 06:22:05 PM PST

  •  So long as Dems are willing to carry water (none)
    For the Pubs, you are absolutely correct.

    Americans All, True and Blue: The Redshirts Violent Come For You.

    by cskendrick on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 06:26:24 PM PST

  •  a successful person (none)
    does not spend as much time as you do thinking about why they can't win.

    branding schmanding, people who win all have one thing in common.... they believe they can win.

    i know there's some insight in your diary, but the diary itself is indicative of a fast and accurate, the most consistent difference between dems and repugs.  and it's why repugs win.

    a dem says what you just said.  "this is why dems will lose."

    a repug would have made all the exact same points, all valid, all right on the money, but it would have been framed like this:  "this is why dems will win."

    you could have written the exact same diary making the exact same points with that title...."this is why dems will win...", and i, for one, would not have been embarrassed for people within my party that can't help themselves but contextualize everything in context of the negative.

    'Every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness' -- Julien Germain

    by BiminiCat on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 06:30:52 PM PST

  •  two words: ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY! (none)
    why these two words?

    because it means whatever the person who hears them brings to the discussion, just as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" does.

    want national health care?


    want good schools?


    want decent jobs?


    want decent retirement benefits?


    want to curb the moneyed interests corrupting your government?


    want a united nation, strong enough to face the future and the world?


    want to know what Republicans DO NOT WANT?


    say it loud, say it proud.


    Stop making Liberalism a fight over cultural issues. Make it a fight for ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY!

    whatever your race, creed, color, or sex, no matter where you have come from, no matter where you are going, stand up for ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY!

  •  You're Right and You're Wrong (none)
    The last commercial of the Kerry campaign is
    memorable for the idiotic attempt to brand the guy as
    taking the high road.  Ah the soaring eagle.  

    People in the country RESPOND to SUBSTANCE.
    We did not show people how they are being fleeced
    to the bone.

    You have to respect working people who may not
    be as educated or as bright.

    You have to talk to them thoughtfully.  Give them
    the FACTS.  And in
    a in simple language that they can understand.

    The Bush people explained that if dems won, gays
    would be destroying the sanctity of marriage.

    This was CLEARLY demonstrated before the election when
    tapes of gays flocking to SFO to get married were
    played over and over to a shocked and horrified

    It was no coincidence that this stuff went on in the year
    before the election.

    Democrats are branded as demonic "libruls."

    We have done nothing to strongly, clearly brand the
    Republican scumbags.

    Instead, we suck up and grovel to them trying hard to
    make them like us.  We take the high road.  And we'll
    keep taking it till we go right off the goddamned  cliff.

  •  no more Kerry types for 2008 (none)
    Meanwhile, the last thing the Democratic Party needs in 2008 is another presidential candidate with NO charisma, who looks old and tired, who doesn't stand up for himself in the face of scurilous character attacks, who can be re-branded or branded onto by the Republicans because he isn't charismatic enough or media-savy enough, and who is an easy target to make fun of.

    We know not everyone wants to be the president. We know that the best, smartest people for the job, rightly so, wouldn't want it. But it's the modern age, and we need someone who not only has good ideas, can think on their feet, can engage anyone in the media, and who looks good. Obama is a perfect example. And Dean, who has become far more media-savy than he was before, which I think was part of his downfall (think of the "scream" and how the Republican Party in colusion with the media, re-branded him as crazy).

  •  I think for myself (none)
    Why can't every Dem learn to say .... endlessly ... over and over and over again ... I think for myself.

    This is a concept the American people understand and appreciate. I think for myself. Surprisingly easy and has the extra added bonus of allowing you to think for yourself!

    We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe, merely because those are the marching orders. -- Noam Chomsky

    by kainah on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 07:40:15 PM PST

    I just opened a firm that only does progressive branding in DC. Check out or the new progressive coalition for a prospectus (see The Nix Group) under proposals.
  •  So clever and classless and free (none)

    Aint we all tube-savvy now. Advertizing and marketing is for the masses, we all see through the hype.  We could mix up a whirlwind meme storm to blow the bad guys away; but we don't want to dirty ourselves.  Well little pig Karl has the brick house; and we're out in the cold.


  •  Great diary (none)
    I have given much thought to this over the past several years, and to me, a libertarian-leaning progressive who has been screaming for years about energy independence and end the War on Drugs and why don't the Dems outflank the GOP on the RIGHT in terms of trashing the tax code, I'm more or less on the side that we may have to see things get much worse before they get any better.  I think we're fucked.

    This is long, but it's a pretty good analysis (per those who have read it) of why Average Joe doesn't vote, or doesn't know what he's voting about, and/or, worse, doesn't even care what he's not voting about.  

    The Readers Digest version is that the Dems AND the GOP have complicated matters both political and economic and worked in their own obvious self-interest for so long that Joe has just checked out.  The system has been fixed, and Joe knows it.  By both parties.  (That's why a third can't get started.)  It's beyond repair.

    Sorry about the end notes...haven't yet learned how to make them footnotes in HTML.  They're largely for entertainment's sake, anyway.

  •  Hmmm (none)
    Interesting title.

    Interesting assertions.

    I disagree with a great deal of it.

    Particularly on the power of negative feelings for the GOP.

    We'll see.

    The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

    by Armando on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 07:52:24 PM PST

  •  We can win BUT... yes, branding is key (none)
    I disagree that all is lost, BUT... the thrust of this is 100% right -- we spend way too much time on "message" nuances and way too little time on brand.  

    People decide who to vote for with their hearts, and then justify it with their heads.   Is this how it should be?  Of course not.  But here on planet Earth, is it how it IS?  Hell yes.  

    This doesn't mean we need to be trite or sell our politicians like we'd sell a diet soda, but... on the other hand, a lot of smart people spend a crapload of money deciding how to sell soda, and they know what works.  That's why you'll never see a soda commercial that spends an hour deciphering riboflavin, carmel coloring, etc., in minute detail.  No, you'll see a bunch of happy people dancing by a splashing fireplug or something... something that evokes an emotion, a feeling, etc.

    Put poltics aside, put aside your own preconceptions, and go through all of the elections throughout the television age, and you'll see that policy specifics rarely make a difference.  In nearly every presidential election, the taller candidate has won.  That should tell you something...

  •  brand is an effect, not a cause (none)
    Here is the relavent quote from October 2005 issue of Fast Company on the issue of brand management:

    Remove the hype, and branding is just commonsense strategy, rebranding.  To successfully build a brand, says INSEAD marketing professor Amitava Chattopadhyay, "is to communicate your key value proposition to the key customer segment, and do so in an integrated and consistent way."  In other words, Business 101.

    Democrats are failing business 101.  Dems are about to be branded by the reThugs as pussies and losers.  Hello, it time to get on the ball here.  Anybody in the Democratic party listening?  Democrats need to implement commonsense strategy in an integrated and consistent way.  This is not rocket science, folks!  

  •  Thought Provoking (none)
    For a diary to have over 350 comments in a few hours is not by accident.  Thanks (again) Rippe for exposing this raw nerve.

    A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. - Edward Abbey

    by optimusprime on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 10:04:06 PM PST

  •  style vs substance (none)
    It Is not about seeming

    or should not be...

    It is about being.

    Read Sarte, be authentic...or we don't deserve to win.

    SOCIAL SECURITY: Invented by Democrats yesterday, Protected by Democrats today

    by mollyd on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 11:03:45 PM PST

  •  coke (none)
    Pepsi is better than Coke... please...
  •  We will forever lose but dammit (none)
    we'll have our principles.  Is that it?
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