As we recently discussed, the Obama team has perfected the zeitgeist campaign. Some of it is intentional, (the text messages, the basketball,) while the rest (the internet memes) just sorta happens. Music is another important element of this. Everyone knows Republicans make poor DJs, and Senator Obama has collected an impressive variety of musical endorsements.
Democrats always pwn music. Even sad-sack John Kerry had future Senator Bruce Springsteen. But, as the BBC’s Gavin Hewitt noted today, Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, and Bon Jovi were always the headliners; fans would literally come for the band and leave from the candidate. Obama is the star, and his campaign has picked perfect music to augment his aura:
“Two songs, however, are used to define the campaign. One is the arrival anthem, that plays Barack Obama onto the stage. It is U2’s “City of Blinding Lights” – with its line “oh you look so beautiful tonight.”
It’s a stunning song, combining a real Phil Spector sound with a crowd-pleasing hook. They also nailed it on Biden, bringing him out to Springsteen’s “The Rising.” It may be a little too 9/11, but Springsteen acolyte (and legitimate Reverend) Jeffrey Symykywicz makes the case for why it works, and most importantly it just feels right.
Choosing campaign songs is not as easy as it looks. Hillary’s people flubbed it with Celine freakin’ Dion, John Edwards’ schtick was Mellencampy, and poor McCain-Palin keeps getting sued. So back to the other song Hewitt identified as central to the campaign:
“…after his speech, when he lifts the bottle of water to his lips, in comes the heavy beat and then Stevie Wonder’s scream in “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
It’s an awesome song from an all-time great American musician – it’s easy to forget that the man’s been on the charts since 1963.
In the key of Stevie, an African-American friend of mine said something worth closing with. I had been talking about the cultural relevence of Bob Dylan to my family, the kind of people who raise their kids on Phil Ochs and Joan Baez, edited up a “liberation haggadah” for Passover, and distribute “Rise Up Singing” as a graduation gift. We were driving somewhere discussing this when Stevie comes on his CD player. My friend turns to me and goes: “What Bob Dylan means to your mother, that’s what Stevie Wonder means to black people.”
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Slate’s technology writer Farhad Manjoo assembled some evidence supporting Senator Obama’s text message campaign. According to Green and Gerber, (shameless book pitch,) text messages deliver the effectiveness of canvassing at low low prices! Text messages, tailored to the recipient’s neighborhood and delivered in a casual “hello from Barack” style, give supporters friendly, personalized information about events, voting, and campaign volunteer opportunities.
But the text messages are just an example of an overall strategy to run a high-tech, well-messaged, forward-looking campaign. Here’s the contrast:
CHESTER, Pa., Oct 28 (Reuters) – Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama launches an unprecedented television blitz on Wednesday to push his economic message on U.S. networks ranging from CBS and NBC to Comedy Central.
“His Republican rival John McCain plans to appear on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
Larry freakin’ King is two years younger than McCain. So while Obama is texting his supporters for house parties, the GOP is recruiting 40-year-old “Young Eagles.” The Obama campaign has nailed the font and logo, delivering slickly-packaged style and substance through youth-friendly mediums. A glance at the Obama buttons page reveals small variations on the ubiquitous logo tailored to independents, sportsmen, veterans, and Asian-Americans among others, as well as state-name logos.
Campaigns have been “selling candidates like soap flakes” forever, but it isn’t as easy at it looks. The website typography.com described the McCain-Palin font as “down-market luxe,” comparing it to low-end aftershave:
DesignBay.com has a fascinating analysis of campaign logos, which is worth reading before you sign up to volunteer through MyBarackObama.com. Because Barack Obama is your new bicycle.
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August 12 (Originally posted by Mireille)
A British friend of mine once described American beer thusly: “Its like having sex on a life raft– fucking close to water.”
With the pending purchase of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgian-Brazilian InBev, there has been a scramble to name the next great American-owned beer. Many assume that the Beer King’s perceived betrayal of his most ardent supporters, working class flag waving white men, will cause their loyalties to shift. In Anheuser-Busch’s defense, they have no plans to close their iconic St. Louis factory. On a personal note, it pains me to defend the company that is responsible for Nattie Light.
Salon has a run down of the contenders. It begins with an interesting analysis of the marketing strategy of Pabst, favorite of broke hipster kids because of its ‘lack of pretension’. It’s an good example of how subtle identity and ideology driven choices affect how a brand is perceived independent of their own marketing effort. Though unbeknown to the hipsters, their beloved blue ribbon actively cultivated their mystique upon learning of their popularity among this fickle niche. The article unenthusiastically concludes that Yuengling, the country’s oldest continuing brewer established in 1829, would be the most likely successor–were it not for its limited distribution. I can say that Yuengling is better quality than your average mass produced American lager, it has the cool uniformity of taste without being watery–But I’m really more an ale person so it wouldn’t be my first choice to begin with.
Having said all that, I doubt that there will be any colossal consumer shift. Bud will continue to be all stars, titties and stripes and the average American consumer will continue to be beguiled, sub-par quality be damned.
In this interview Sam Adam’s Jim Koch summed up nicely by saying, “No, I’ve always believed people should drink the beer for its inherent quality. To me, waving the flag doesn’t make the beer taste any better.”
Truer words, Jim, truer words.
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