Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama mania hits my inbox (part 2)

With the first day of the convention down, my inbox continues to bulge with Obama-related emails -- but still not as much as in the first 24-48 hours of my signing up. In today's post, I grade the rest of these emails, and see if the Obama camp has sealed me as a constituent by its communication strategy alone.

4. "The Next Vice President" from Barack Obama. This email follow-up to the text message announcement didn't quite pack the same excitement as the text did. (Nor was the text itself particularly enthralling -- the newness of the vehicle and lure of immediacy/intimacy were the real draws.) Though clear and to the point, this note lacked enthusiasm. I didn't feel inspired to get behind the ticket after reading it. (Perhaps they should have taken a cue from my friend Jordana, whose friend texted her a much more exciting message when the news broke -- simply "BIDEN!") Worse, I didn't gain any insight into WHY Biden was chosen, or how he would help. I give this effort a C, for its lack of energy and threadbare content.

5. "First Edition Obama-Biden Car Magnet" from Obama for America. Um, you think after the lukewarm reception of the announcement email I'm suddenly going to go gaga over a car magnet? The only cool thing here is the fact it's not a bumper sticker. I don't even HAVE a car. The son bears the sins of the father in this case by soliciting donations in the thin guise of merchandising though it hasn't sealed my support. C as well.

6. "Hello" from Joe Biden. People, what have you done with the enthusiasm in this campaign? Do you only trot it out at rallies now? An equally blah email from Joe Biden himself does little to illuminate his position. The only thing to save this from another "C" is the video Joe presents. While he dutifully toes the party line, he at least gives some hint as to what he brings to the table. Plus it's a friendly introduction. B-.

On average, Obama scored a B in my book from a communications standpoint. Here's the breakdown:

Pros: good response time, clean design, clear text, easy and multiple calls to action, corresponding ease on the website, consistent grassroots messaging and inclusive language.

Cons: lack of immediate access to deeper information (which seems to assume everybody on this list is already a diehard), few if any specifics about policy or decisions (he risks eroding trust), and by extension, an over-reliance on his well-crafted brand.

Note to the Obama group -- you can't just fan flames, you occasionally have to feed them, too. You have all the outlets and processes, all the right copywriters and designers, and all the right social media people in place to blanket the country with this message and continue inspiring your legions.

Now put the oomph of your leader behind it. Deepen the message, while widening your outreach. This is the juncture for A+ level work and information. Otherwise, you miss a critical opportunity to convert discerning undecideds. And it's going to take more than a car magnet.


  1. also interesting to note that EVERYONE wants us to be driving less. yet he wants our primary form of advertisement to be on our cars...love obama, but come on people. we have brains, too.

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Well, Dear Julia, I see you've decided to get into politics. Knowing of your great sense of fairplay, I presume you will give Senator Mc Cain equal time. I certainly will not surprised if I get a letter tomorrow. Claude

  3. See funny, I had a different reaction to the car magnet. First off I was VERY glad to see that it was a MAGNET rather than a bumper sticker, hence removable. I wouldn't mind branding myself a bit to the campaign but I do not want to be one of those people driving a car around 10 years later with an outdated sticker on it. The saddest is when you see the stickers from the non-winning campaigns on the cars 10 years later :(

    Second, even though I have a lot of experience in advertising sales/integrated marketing/incentives and I can recognize this incentive for what it is I'm still not opposed and I am still susceptible to the occassional "incentive." I have decided that rather than maxing myself out with one big donation I am going to give small amounts throughout the campaign - and I think incentives are good at sparking those types of donations. SO when you think of Obama's donors - many of whom like me are giving small dollar amounts - you can't discount the power of a cheesy incentive here & there...