So … read this as a marketing commentary.
One of the pillars of my beliefs about marketing, as captured in my book Brand Harmony, is that today’s customers are too savvy and self-reliant to believe everything they are told in marketing messages. Marketing communication isn’t about what you say. It’s about what people believe after you say (and do) it.
Yesterday, Colin Powell credited the negative tone of the McCain campaign and specious claims McCain’s team has made about Obama as key drivers in his decision to endorse Barack Obama. He also criticized the McCain campaign’s lack of clarity and consistency in their approach to the economy, saying, “Every day there was a different approach.”
In addition to other, policy-driven reasons, which are not my subject here, Powell’s endorsement reinforces this key idea of modern marketing. Customers are highly scrutinizing, and all aspects of your message need to blend in Brand Harmony if you hope to create a powerful, motivating message.
McCain should have looked at the key marketing lesson of the 1992 Clinton-Bush race: “It’s the economy, stupid.” By having an incredibly clear focus, Bill Clinton out-marketed Bush Sr., whose messages were more muddled and harder to hold in your hand.
Maybe this is why an Ad Age poll selected Obama as marketer of the year, beating out Apple, Nike and, yes, McCain.