The 2016 Presidential Brouhaha: Marketers Crave the Spotlight
Editor's note: Denny Hatch returns for a one-time column on the 2016 presidential election.
I have been involved in politics for over 50 years — as a voter, campaigner and writer.
I have never seen anything like the shenanigans being practiced by today’s political operatives — the marketers of the candidates — and their handmaidens in the media.
In 1969, I joined John V. Lindsay’s re-election campaign for mayor of New York and was assigned to ride in the campaign car of Lindsay’s controller candidate, Fioravante (Fred) Perrotta.
For two and a half months during the Republican Primary, I spent evenings and weekends driving all over the 305 square miles of the city of New York. My job: Finding pay telephones and men’s rooms for Freddie while he speechified and pressed the flesh.
The one thing I learned about the marketing of aspirants for political office: The candidates are the stars of show. Our job was to stay in the deep shadows and do everything possible to help them achieve center stage and shine.
Back then, there were:
- No 24/7-cable news. No cellphones. No computers.
- No Twitter. No Interviews with campaign directors.
- No media blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.
Fast-forward 47 years. A sampling from the 2016 media:
- From The New York Times front page:
Behind Ted Cruz’s Campaign Manager, Scorched Earth and Election Victories
Jeff Roe, Ted Cruz’s campaign manager, answered reporters’ questions after the Republican presidential debate in Charleston, S.C., this month.
- [John] Podesta, who is actually the chairman of the Clinton campaign, was put forward by the campaign to face off against Bernie Sander’s senior adviser Tad Devine during a spin room interview with Chris Matthews.
—Brent Scher, The Washington Free Beacon
- After Rubio underperforms tonight, they'll roll out 5 lobbyist endorsements tomorrow & call it momentum.
—John Weaver Tweet, Kasich Senior Strategist (author of 30,900 Tweets)
- "South Carolina is going to be important because it's going to be the commander-in-chief primary there," [Maxwell] Kochel [Bush’s Chief Strategist] told Business Insider. "You've got 25% of the state [that] is military or veteran. We have the support of Lindsey Graham and we have a strong organization. I think this race is going to narrow."
—Maxwell Tani, Business Insider
The above are examples of how campaign officials no longer operate in secrecy. Instead they fall all over themselves and the media to achieve personal recognition and kudos.
The media want scoops, exclusives, gossip and — above all — ratings. With hours and hours of airtime to fill and unlimited print space on the Internet, these so-called journalists are desperate to make news rather than report it.
They are also wrecking the political process.
A Direct Marketing Analogy
Imagine having a client whose business is selling a gold bracelet and charms on a continuity basis. What is the optimum selling price for the bracelet and each charm?
Obviously you test.
Imagine going out the marketplace and announcing you are testing gold charms at $9.99, $19.99 and $29.99. Plus another test of free vs. paid shipping and handling.
The concept is preposterous!