Senator Obama’s ‘CHANGE that you can believe in’ message worked brilliantly in the primaries. It tapped into something very real in the country, but I think most importantly it was the consistency with which he used it.
It was his slogan 16 months ago and it was still right there on the podium when he claimed the nomination. It reminds me of the recent Australian election where the opposition ran with ‘fresh leadership’ through the entire campaign while a tired government changed their message continually from ‘Strength & Security’, to ‘Experience & Tested Leadership’, to ‘A Safe Pair of Hands’, and then I think finally it was ‘Go for Growth’.
That last one was a complete fiasco as the number one issue at polling time was trying to slow a heating economy and avoid further interest rate rises. But that’s what happens when you fail to plan properly and start making changes in a panic. Senator Clinton fell into a similar trap – although no as egregiously – by starting with ‘Experience’ and then changing mid-stream, seeming to plagiarize Obama’s message as her placards also began shouting ‘Change’. There simply wasn’t the same priceless continuity to her message.
When it comes to campaign slogans I believe continuity is as important as the message itself. It must be thought about very carefully and then stuck-with throughout the entire campaign.
Now that it’s all about beating McCain the big issue the GOP will hammer home ad-nausea will be McCain’s superior experience on all fronts...particularly foreign affairs. However I believe the best way to counter that is by highlighting judgment as a far superior character trait than simply experience.
After all, the US President has more competent and experienced individuals ready to advise him at the touch of a button than he’ll ever need. W just didn’t listen or can't comprehend anything in-depth not involving baseball or fishing. And let’s not forget (although it would be nice to), few have had more inside-Washington experience than the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc... yet their complete lack of judgment has led to easily the most disastrous administration both the World and America has ever seen. With a bit of help from W of course!
During the campaign Senator Obama’s main task (and I believe it could be easier than the professional punditry expects, if done smartly) will be to nullify this issue.
That means educating the voters (the Dems now have the time and Hillary can really help here) about Obama’s life experiences compared to that of McCain’s, and then anyone with an IQ in double digits must – you would expect – conclude that Obama’s life story and resulting experience is far superior in the context of the modern-day, geopolitical situation we find ourselves in. You only need to look at his (at the time) controversial rejection of the Iraqi invasion way before the cruise missiles were launched.
Now that’s the kind of judgment – based on his life experience – that America so desperately needs and why linking his proven record of energizing the masses with his change message should now be conjoined with judgment for the general election slogan.
I believe that shortly all placards and podium messages should read: ‘Change with Judgment’ or ‘Change & Judgment’...I’m sure a few focus groups would reveal which wording is preferable.
I sincerely hope Obama’s campaign are already considering this (if not, could someone with a contact on the inside please just pass on the idea at least). And if you have other ideas for a slogan or simply wish to discuss the wisdom of my thesis, I’d love to read your comments.
Many thanks for reading my post.