Political Hyperbole and Bait-and-Switch Questionnaires: It’s All About the Money
How many times did our parents tell us that over-dramatizing and “crying wolf” were dangerous tactics? After a short time no one would pay any attention? They wouldn’t know what was real and what was nothing more than noisy exaggeration, better to be ignored.
Like Target Marketing Editor-in-Chief Thorin McGee’s inbox, every day mine displays a stunning collection of hysterical, ill-directed communications from every arm of the Democratic party’s octopus of units: the DCCC, the Democratic National Committee, Maggie for NH, National Democratic Training Committee, Progressive Turnout Project and the imperious “read now (don’t delete)” commands from Nancy Pelosi.
Here is my inbox from the past few days:
Just look at President Donald Trump “CRUSHED,” “STUNNED,” “IMPEACHED,” “GETS AWAY WITH IT,” “COLLAPSES” and “RUINED” (twice on consecutive days from different tentacles of the DCCC “…the official campaign arm of the Democrats in the House”). And my favorite, “GONE.”
As far as I can tell, at this writing, Trump has not been crushed, ruined, nor is he gone. So having heard these “wolf-crying” messages, is there anyone out there who is still opening these emails and being sufficiently motivated to make contributions? Rationally, the answer must be “yes,” or one would suppose that the messages would stop or at least change. It hasn’t happened yet.
Not being a copywriter or a political fundraiser, I can only react as a data-driven marketing professional and more importantly in this case, as a concerned Democrat who fears that the disparate and seemingly desperate party is progressively shooting itself in both of its feet. That would not seem to be the best strategy to power a strong run for the return to office.
If that were not bad enough, this blizzard of hyperbolic messages is accompanied by a tsunami of false questionnaires, opinion polls and requests for signatures on petitions that are going nowhere and unlikely to make any difference to anything. They just add to the mess. A classic was received last week. Note the Header: “Re: Not Asking for Money,” which, not surprisingly, turned out to be exactly what it was doing.
It is a given that today, money — as much of it as possible — is the fuel which powers the political machine. So it is totally understandable that the political parties would wish to amass a treasure chest as early as possible; although it would be interesting to know what happens to it all and how much of it goes into the political consultant’s bank accounts.
The question as a marketer is whether the endless flood of redundant hyperbole, plus the numerous requests to complete bogus surveys — the last question of which is always some version of “Will you chip in $3 today to help train Democratic candidates who will resist Trump?” — is what will keep the loyalty of the base and ultimately provide optimum funding.
Absent from the great majority of these messages is that magic element, benefits. The copy is almost always focused on how dangerous, awful, unprincipled and corrupt Trump and his administration is instead of laying out a positive set of proposals, which the Democratic Party supports and which will make the nation stronger and the life of the voter better. Perhaps the consultants have tested these appeals and found that they don’t work as well as the “Is Trump CRYING?” variety: Too bad if it’s true.
My fear is that the continuation of this over-mailing of crying-wolf messages and bait-and-switch questionnaires must lead to ever-diminishing returns. And when you are out of office, that’s something you just can’t afford.
End it …
Peter J. Rosenwald is an expat American living and working in Brazil; founder and first CEO of Wunderman Worldwide, International Division of Wunderman agency) and first chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Direct Worldwide; strategist and senior executive in charge of building subscription and data-driven marketing for Editora Abril, Latin America's leading magazine publisher; founder of Consult Partners, active strategic marketing consultancy working in Brazil, U.S. and U.K. International keynote speaker on data-driven marketing and author of "Accountable Marketing" (Thomson), "Profiting From the Magic of Marketing Metrics" (Direct Marketing IQ), and "GringoView" blog author for Brazilian Huffington Post. With an international perspective, my blog's purpose is to share my maverick views of this business I've spent the last half-century working in, enjoying and observing.