Patrick Ruffini has a fascinating post that compares the Obama campaign to marketing a luxury brand as follows:
Most campaigns never get beyond talking issues. The sophisticated ones run on attributes in the foreground (cares about people like me) tied to issues in the background (a health care plan). The Obama effort seems to be something wholly different. The campaign and its marketing seem designed to evoke aspirational feelings that have virtually no political meaning whatsoever. This is what great brands do. They evoke feelings that have virtually zero connection to product attributes and specifications… The branding approach liberates Obama to be the candidate of the MoveOn wing and of national unity.
What’s so interesting about this from a business marketing point of view is that brands that “evoke feelings that have virtually zero connection to product attributes and specifications” are almost always brands for low-involvement products (Coke, Budweiser, Tide, etc.) rather than high-involvement products (automobiles, consumer electronics, certain kinds of apparel, etc.). High-involvement products command our attention, and powerful high-involvement brands typically do incorporate product attributes, and extend from rational to emotional consideration. This is certainly true for the three example brands that Patrick provides in his post: BMW, Apple and Nike.
In fact, by this analogy one of the problems that the Obama “brand” is likely to encounter is the one that David Brooks described as “how this new politics would actually produce bread-and-butter benefits to people in places like Youngstown and Altoona” to support its emotional content.