Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Liveblogging Obama's primetime infomercial

I haven’t done liveblogging since this blog’s inception back in May 2008 when I wrote about American Idol as it was happening. Remind me again who won? Oh yeah, that big headed guy…damn, what’s his name again?

So tonight is President Obama’s – premature, I know but appropriate nonetheless – infomercial of his candidacy. Earlier this week he presented his ‘closing arguments’ and is ending the race with a strong focus on positive positioning. The issues have been discussed, the challenges have been faced. It’s now an appeal to very guttural, atavistic beliefs in voters that a) something is wrong with the current situation, and that b) he is the best person to fix it. I’m really looking forward to this 30-min tv spot because it’s a package of branding wrapped up nicely with a big bow. It’s also got huge visibility and I’m curious to know Obama is using this unique (and crazy expensive) form of PR to his advantage.

If this was an infomercial, we’d probably see this running across the bottom of our tv screens:

"HOPE! for only $29.99. Act now and we'll also throw in CHANGE YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR!"
(Thanks Peter!)

So on with the show:

8:01pm: Waving seas of wheat pan to clapping children. Nice portrayal of Americana! Obama's voiceover sounds scary - almost like Morgan Freeman talking as President at the closing credits of Deep Impact. 'Need to keep faith', and 'real and lasting change' are good lines!

8:04pm: Obama is going to share stories of real Americans. The first story is a woman from North Kansas Missouri - God, everything sounds awful about this woman's life! She's probably hardcore Obama at heart, why else would she decided to participate in this masturbatory session of political branding?

8:05pm: I really love the soothing fadeouts between clips and scenes. He's doing a great job tying these 'stories' (really more like sad YouTube clips...) to his issues and platform positions.

8:07pm: the acoustic guitar is putting me to sleep. Candid (scripted) interviews with prominent politicians are helping to build him up and position him as safe, experienced, and credible.

8:08pm: Doesn't this guy playing slide guitar remind you of the guy in those arthritis commercials?

8:10pm: Obama is back. Looking me right in the eye. That's good. He's connecting.

8:11pm: I really want Sarah Palin to do something like this, imagine the winking and finger-shooting...she's a maverick you know.

8:13pm: Wow, Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) just gave a clear endorsement. The focus of this chunk of clips is apparently on energy and the economy.

8:14pm: Juliana's son, Adam, looks like Napoleon Dynamite. The music is real lethargic and sad, this is a heartstrong story.

8:15pm: the music is uplifting, shots of children - children are the future! Oh wait, the music is slower now, Barack is talking about his deadbeat absentee dad. HAHA - photos of young Obama!

8:16pm: Ok, the tone is really shifting now, it's positive. Enough with the sad stuff. He's smiling and the future looks bright. I wonder who directed this...?

8:20pm: Clips of "the road", clips of his mom. How do I feel now? Well, I support Obama anyway but the brand is really taking on a human tone. There isn't the elevation and deification typical of other politicians. This infomercial is showing him as being really down to earth.

8:21pm: Biden is introduced. Great images and old stock footage, "Biden has never forgotten where he came from"

8:23pm: Average Joe is introduced who lost his manufacturing job. I actually have a major beef with this. Workers have lost jobs and those jobs are never coming back. Those jobs are in China now and despite all the promises Obama (and McCain) are making to bring back real manufacturing jobs, it's just not going to happen. The best option is developing new industry. Clean energy maybe?

8:24pm: Obama's grandmother defeated fascism? Wow, really?

8:26pm: The military will apparently be rebuilt and increased. Is this new or was I just not paying attention before? Photos montage of Americans (notice they're all White...) suggest that Blacks and Hispanics are already voting for him.

8:27pm: things are wrapping up. Clip of him giving a speech that sounds like he's basically laying himself bare as a real guy, who offers a promise of a better future.

8:28pm: Whoa, he's live now!

8:29pm: this crowd is going nuts. Wow, what a great speaker.

8:30pm: it's finally over! I can stop liveblogging!

Ok my thoughts:

  • This was perfect for primetime. It was highly produced, easily digestible, and very focused.
  • He positioned himself, his brand, as human and real
  • The affiliation with both real people and politicians was effective, but I'd like to have seen more showcasing of individuals from diverse background. I suspect however that the choice of 'stories' was highly politically influenced to appeal to independent or swing voters, e.g. the white mom in the Midwest.
  • Overall, this was an innovative spot which I think ultimately might have been unnecessary, but gave American voters a better perception of him, not only as a person, but as an ideas-driven brand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that Obama enhanced his "brand" image. I think that everyone knows he's out there....he just needs to keep showing who he really is. I.e. Show that he can relate to any demographic, talk to anyone etc. I think this is one of the main things that the American people are looking for in a President. After the recent financial crisis and other issues surrounding the US, the American people need someone that can understand and sympathize with them.