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Is America Suffering from Buyer’s Remorse with Obama?

Gary Kaskowitz, marketing professor and author of Brand it like Barack! explains

Brand It Like BarackBethlehem, Pa., July 20, 2010—Less than two years ago, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. Now, even many of his most ardent supporters appear to be regretting this decision. It appears that the Gulf Oil Crisis could become Obama’s Katrina, notes Dr. Gary Kaskowitz, marketing professor at Moravian College (Pa.), and author of the new book, Brand It Like Barack!: How Barack Obama sold himself to America and what you can learn from this.

“Buyer’s remorse is a marketing term that basically means, maybe I shouldn’t have bought that,” says Kaskowitz. “Barack Obama sold himself to the American public through the use of incredibly effective emotional marketing techniques. However, when the reality of what we buy doesn’t compare to the vision we have when buying it, your natural inclination is to ask for a refund.” President Obama’s reactions to the Gulf Oil Crisis have many people shaking their heads as to what exactly he is doing. When Obama announced his candidacy, he had no national experience to speak of, yet he was able to win the Democratic nomination as well as the general election based in large part on emotional marketing techniques. These techniques included:

  1. The use of classic story structure in shaping his message 
  2. The power of truly understanding the motives and aspirations of his core audience 
  3. The ability to sell himself as a central character in his audience’s personal story 
  4. An incredibly effective use of internet technology

According to Kaskowitz, author of “Brand It Like Barack! How Barack Obama sold himself to America and what you can learn from this”, the problem with using very powerful and emotional marketing techniques to beat your competition is that you had better deliver on it. “If not, your audience will surely turn on you like a pack of hungry dogs on a t-bone steak!”

Brand It Like Barack!, (Dog Ear Publishing, 2010) outlines the steps that Barack Obama and his campaign successfully followed to win the presidency. While there has been and will be debate on the politics of Barack Obama, few could argue about the stunning success of his presidential campaign. Strategically using available assets combined with contextual cues allowed him to understand the needs of his market (the voters) while creating a persona that inspired and motivated his followers to not only vote for him, but to aggressively market him themselves. Inspiring fierce loyalty from his audience, Obama successfully spread his message at internet speed to overwhelm his competition, winning his party’s presidential nomination and ultimately the general election. Brand It Like Barack! is available at most on-line booksellers and fine, select bookstores.

Gary Kaskowitz, M.B.A., Ph.D., is an associate professor of management at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa. His research and teaching focus is on marketing principles, both classic and modern. He has created and taught courses on branding and salesmanship. Prior to teaching at Moravian, he taught at the University of Maryland and was a senior manager of Market Research at Verizon. In his earlier life, Kaskowitz was a sales engineer for Motorola. He has also worked as a marketing consultant for both large and small organizations with an emphasis on understanding human motivation. Always fascinated by why people make the purchase choices they make, he has spent the last several years studying the use of story structure and internet technology in creating and spreading a brand message.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America’s sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at http://www.moravian.edu