It's all about rebranding.
According to this excellent piece by Naomi Klein, the American corporatocracy, after taking a major global PR beating during the Bush years, rebranded itself with Obama.
Just like Blackwater renamed itself Xe after the numerous scandals in Iraq, the sole imperial power in the world decided it too needed a major face lift. And Obama was exactly what the plastic surgeon ordered.
"When Obama was sworn in as president, the American brand could scarcely have been more battered - Bush was to his country what New Coke was to Coca-Cola, what cyanide in the bottles had been to Tylenol. Yet Obama, in what was perhaps the most successful rebranding campaign of all time, managed to turn things around."
"So, it seemed that the United States government could solve its reputation problems with branding - it's just that it needed a branding campaign and product spokesperson sufficiently hip, young and exciting to compete in today's tough market. The nation found that in Obama, a man who clearly has a natural feel for branding and who has surrounded himself with a team of top-flight marketers. His social networking guru, for instance, is Chris Hughes, one of the young founders of Facebook. His social secretary is Desirée Rogers, a glamorous Harvard MBA and former marketing executive. And David Axelrod, Obama's top adviser, was formerly a partner in ASK Public Strategies, a PR firm which, according to Business Week, "has quarterbacked campaigns" for everyone from Cablevision to AT&T. Together, the team has marshalled every tool in the modem marketing arsenal to create and sustain the Obama brand: the perfectly calibrated logo (sunrise over stars and stripes); expert viral marketing (Obama ringtones); product placement (Obama ads in sports video games); a 30-minute infomercial (which could have been cheesy but was universally heralded as "authentic"); and the choice of strategic brand alliances (Oprah for maximum reach, the Kennedy family for gravitas, and no end of hip-hop stars for street cred)."
So with a few minor cosmetic touch-ups (announcing the closure of GitMo, assigning first female Latina to Supreme Court, ceasing usage of 'war on terror' terminology), the Obama administration has seemingly undone all the damage of the Bush years.
The reality is "that Obama played the anti-war, anti-Wall Street party crasher to his grassroots base, which imagined itself leading an insurgency against the two-party monopoly through dogged organisation and donations gathered from lemonade stands and loose change found in the crevices of the couch. Meanwhile, he took more money from Wall Street than any other presidential candidate, swallowed the Democratic party establishment in one gulp after defeating Hillary Clinton, then pursued "bipartisanship" with crazed Republicans once in the White House."
Who was it who said that as much as things change, they stay the same?
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
It's all about rebranding.