So, in his continuing series of innovations in political marketing, Zerobama is “answering questions” today on Google. ROFL!
Not only is this yet another IQ test for Zero’s fans — “Why are you a social climber with no values?” “Why haven’t you lifted a finger to help your own constituents?” “When will you be turning yourself in for your war crimes?” “Isn’t Guantanamo still open?” — but it’s neither more nor less than an undisguised data-scraping operation, as well as a huge gift to the corporate marketers who buy data from Google.
Ask Zero a “question,” so his handlers can figure out how to sell you the coming new wrinkles in Reaganism, and then get Killary Klinton elected to keep it all rolling.
Did folks catch the Commander in Chief “crying” from the outside of his eye? Apparently neither law nor gravity apply to U.S. Presidents.
Meanwhile, they might revive a dropped list of ideas for possibly trying a bit harder to enforce existing gestures rules, whatever those might be. But perhaps not. Might cost the Dimbots some fraction of their chance to slip Hillary into the babysitter role in 2016. Or maybe they are just doing the usual — avoiding any and all precedents of decency.
This political marketer with the hippie visage is Ethan Roeder, departing data director for Obama for America. Mr. Roeder has just published a New York Times op-ed titled “I Am not Big Brother.” He doth, of course, protest way too much.
Ethan says his “day job” — he fancies himself a movement organizer, but more on that howler in a minute — is “political data.” Sadly for him, it seems he feels somewhat besieged by public distaste for this job. He is not, he swears, “an all-knowing super-genius.”
But think for a moment, Ethan: Is that really what people hate about marketing in general and political marketing specifically? Do folks think the Ethan Roeders of the world are mad scientists running amok? Or is it more that they know the Ethan Roeders of the world allow corporate politicians to manipulate voters with more efficiency and no more honesty than ever?
Ethan doesn’t ask that question, of course. Instead, he heaps on more hyperbolic straw-man accusations against himself:
If I’m not spying on private citizens through the security cam in the parking garage, I’m probably sifting through their garbage for discarded pages from their diaries or deploying billions of spambots to crack into their e-mail.
If all those things are false, Ethan concludes, then he’s just a humble campaigner trying to help us all “engage” and share our ideas.
Of course, he also doesn’t mention the obverse of the coin with which he fancies he’s purchased his innocence, the assurance that “campaigns don’t know anything more about your online behavior than any retailer, news outlet or savvy blogger.” That flip-side is the reality that modern political campaigns are neither more nor less than ordinary brand marketing efforts, and votes are merely the purchase people like Roeder are hired to finagle.
“[T]echnology,” he says as if it’s some comfort, “is allowing campaigns to finally see through the fog of the crowd and engage voters one by one.”
That one on one relationship is entirely about product-positioning, and zero percent about candidates genuinely seeking ideas and proposals from constituents. (Not that Ethan doesn’t try to sell the latter notion.)
And what about that nighttime struggle? Mr. Roeder is also apparently a principal at a place called, Orwellianly enough, the New Organizing Instutute, where he peddles the idea that the encroachment of political marketing into movement organizing is somehow an advance, rather than a severe malignancy, in movement organizing.
He even has a brand name for his confusion — “engagement organizing.”
Engagement Organizers start with time-tested grassroots organizing strategies, grounded in the behavioral sciences and hardened in the field. We combine these strategies with emerging online tools and technology.
Translation? “Engagement organizers” are people who use marketing research on behalf of their clients, to try to surreptitiously provoke some action that would not otherwise occur. They are the Ethan Roeders of the world.
Here’s your TCT update on how the 2008 Marketer of the Year defended his title in 2012, per Advertising Age and The New York Times. The methods, of course, continued to follow the usual path as they grew.
Here’s Ad Age on the use of market research as a substitute for political listening and representation:
Successful political campaigns, Barack Obama’s among them, put real-time data to use rapidly and aggressively. Corporate brands could learn a thing or two, whether it’s how data can incite speedier decisions, or the ways offline info can benefit online messaging.
“Political campaigns use real-time insights and data to make creative decisions on the fly. Everything is tested and decisions are made almost instantaneously,” said Michael Bassik, CEO of Proof Integrated Communications, a WPP-owned agency serving political and corporate clients.
The Obama campaign famously built the largest data team in political history to integrate data gleaned via social media and the web with offline data, such as shopping information and voter-file data. As early as July of 2011, predictive-modeling and data-mining analysts were in demand for the in-house analytics department in Chicago.
Key to that team’s success, wrote Michael Scherer in Time, was this “single massive system that could merge the information collected from pollsters, fundraisers, field workers and consumer databases as well as social-media and mobile contacts with the main Democratic voter files in the swing states.” That data fed into many strategies, from helping media buyers find unconventional — and thus, less expensive — TV buys (FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” was one), to figuring out which celebrity messages were most likely to get high-value fundraisers to open their wallets.
This data mining was also supplemented with a “dream team” of academic experts in verbal and behavioral trickery. According to The New York Times for November 12:
The group — which calls itself the “consortium of behavioral scientists,” or COBS — provided ideas on how to counter false rumors, like one that President Obama is a Muslim. It suggested how to characterize the Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, in advertisements. It also delivered research-based advice on how to mobilize voters.
The operations, actions, and impact of the team are, of course, secret:
When asked about the outside psychologists, the Obama campaign would neither confirm nor deny a relationship with them. “This campaign was built on the energy, enthusiasm and ingenuity of thousands of grass-roots supporters and our staff in the states and in Chicago,” said Adam Fetcher, a campaign spokesman. “Throughout the campaign we saw an outpouring of individuals across the country who lent a wide variety of ideas and input to our efforts to get the president re-elected.”
For their part, consortium members said…they could talk only in general terms about the research, because they had signed nondisclosure agreements with the campaign.
I would also wager very heavily that the findings of these political marketers and psy-ops scholars were the main reason Obama decided last May to re-launch the sales proposition that he somehow* favors marriage equality.
*He has, of course, neither proposed nor promised to propose any new federal laws in the area.
The latest U.S. Presidential election is as expensive as it is utterly devoid of sincerity or serious ideas about the nation’s vast problems and injustices. Its hidebound and irrelevant chatter will apparently wind up devouring more than one billion dollars.
TCT could provide you with an extended analysis of the various travesties entwined in the continuing reduction of all public discourse to marketing campaigns. It could also ponder the meaning of the fact that running for President now requires access to $500 million in surplus cash.
Rather than doing that, however, TCT commends your attention to this remarkable video, which says about all that needs to be said at the moment:
Some interesting, if unsurprising, facts on the latest advance in the marketing process known as “politics,” from a recent Advertising Age report:
The most marked changes in what viewers will see this fall compared with prior falls is not only in how many ads will confront them, but who is behind them. The explosion of Republican groups — super PACs, 501(c)(4) organizations, trade associations with political arms — is without question the biggest development in all 2012 advertising.
At the presidential level alone, between April 10 (when Romney unofficially claimed the party’s nomination) and early September, these groups accounted for 55% of all presidential ads aired on the Republican side. The remaining 45% were aired by Romney and the Republican National Committee. During this same timeframe in 2008, only 3% of all Republican ads were sponsored by outside groups; 97% were aired by the McCain campaign or the RNC.
On the Democratic side, the difference between 2008 and 2012 is negligible: 91% of all presidential ads aired during the April-September period in 2012 were sponsored by either the Obama campaign or the Democratic National Committee; just 9% of the ads aired came from outside groups such as Priorities USA Action. In 2008, the breakdown was 96% to 4%.
This not only confirms the basic nature of how the U.S. system now works — the rich blatantly buy elections, but also provides yet another major proof of the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party, which makes not a peep about this trend.
And, of course, the explosion in the degree to which all “campaign” discourse now occurs via TV advertisement continues. The same Ad Age reporter estimates that there are now 43,000 political television advertisements running every day in the United States.