Monday, March 04, 2013

Obama: The Marketer-in-Chief

Politics offer us clear insight into the formulation of marketing. Very rarely, outside of bikini-clad or football-related beer ads, is the marketing so blatantly transparent. Throughout the 2012 Presidential Election, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s campaigns vigorously targeted particular demographics by appealing to certain internal and external forces that influence a voter’s choice. In the end, it was the ability of Barack Obama to connect with these factors that allowed him to retain his incumbency.

“Obama was the better marketer and if the Grand Old Party wants to have a chance of resetting the electoral map they need to respect marketing” (Tantillo, 2012). This statement is especially true when we look at two if the most decisive issues: Healthcare and Reproductive/Women’s Rights.


Almost immediately after it was passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) had its detractors and some pretty prominent ones at that. Fast forward nearly two years and “repeal Obamacare” became a rallying cry for the Republican Party. This was intimated by numerous candidates during the primaries and by Mitt Romney as the eventual nominee.

Outside of trying to appeal to those who are against big-government and rational thinkers who are aware of the bureaucratic nightmare this may become, Mitt Romney’s message was largely ineffective. This was because a majority of Americans, although not necessarily in favor of the ACA were not willing to simply repeal it (Jones, 2012). Barack Obama’s camp kept close watch on polling data that allowed them to tailor their message effectively to the trends currently impacting the public, thus they were easily able to appeal to those who the ACA was intended to benefit (lower income, pre-existing conditions, unemployed recent college graduates) and come off looking compassionate and keeping the public’s best interest in mind.

Reproductive/Women’s Rights

Politics can get ugly, but can anyone recall an issue that was more manufactured, yet effectively divisive as Reproductive/Women’s Rights? In earnest, Mitt Romney did not run, nor intended to deny anyone their rights. There was nothing primitive about the Republican platform that would have lent itself to the campaign that castigated them as the backward, pre-Susan B. Anthony Neanderthals. Yet it was their inability to connect with women and these issues of importance to them that hindered them.

This was largely because the marketing done through campaign ads, pundits and other opinion leaders (i.e. MSNBC and CNN) during the campaign for the President was able to grab onto the certain societal and situational factors amongst the public. This in conjunction with the current perception of the Republican Party, thanks largely to the influence of the media (opinion leader), allowed for this tale to be spun. Some call it scare tactics while to others it is simply politics.
In the end, by focusing on issues that targeted women, especially younger and unmarried women on an emotional level, Barack Obama handily controlled the female vote, capturing nearly 12% more than Mitt Romney (Jones, 2012). It was Romney’s failure to connect with this demographic that ended up costing him the election.

Although only two issues were briefly addressed, it is evident that President Obama and his advisors truly did embrace the concept of effective marketing when it came to every issue they saw as significant. By hitting home on the emotional drivers, both internal and external, he was able to sway how many voters made their decision. Madison Ave could not have done a better job.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erol Senel has been plying his trade in the world of finance and personal investing. Through this real world experience, he has found his true professional passion in economics and financial history.

Twitter: @senelslant


Jones, J. (2012, Feb 27) Americans Divided on Repeal of 2010 Healthcare Law. Gallup. Retrieved from
Tantillo, J. (2012, Nov. 16). Republicans lost because they forgot marketing. FoxNews. Retrieved from

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