Good morning U.S.O. !

So, good morning U.S.O. – or in other words, United States for Obama!

A day full of emotions, high expectations and sheer hope worldwide; and a responsibility that falls on President Barack Obama’s shoulders like a ton of bricks. Clearly his biggest challenge is ahead.

And for all the fancy online tools like mashups, twitters, live blogging tools, facebooks, widgets and so on, I had the chance to tap into emotions mostly through an “outdated” tool like a simple email list from the US that I subscribe to and messages that kept on coming all through the day. But that’s another story… This was undoubtedly an election of many firsts:

  • The longest running presidential campaign period in U.S. history, 21 months in total.
  • The first presidential candidate to deny government campaign support money to focus to grassroots small money, thanks to the best and hence record-breaking, internet-driven, money-making machine ever devised (according to some, $650 mill coming from 3mill small time donors).
  • In terms of advertising money, this enabled him to outspend republicans by 4 to 1 during the last stage of the campaign in some swing states.
  • The largest voter gain among first-time voters (71% to 29%) and those under 30 (66% to 31%) [See more here]
  • More people voted early, before election day, than ever before (est. 29 mill in 30 states), which apparently was a deliberate and bold campaign objective which foresaw a large turnover rate.
  • Probably the highest electoral turnover in the past 100 years in the US, more than 64 % ! (according to MSNBC sources)
  • …and many other firsts yet unreported.

Of course for this particular blog, the big question is how much of this success can be attributed to an admittedly brilliant online political campaign which is already termed the first truly “21st century campaign”. Naturally, in the coming months this is going to be the subject of many heated debates. Some things are clear however:

  • We need to dig into data, research and do a lot of intelligent reading to measure the true extend of this claim in a comprehensive, quantifiable and scientifically sound manner.
  • Whatever the final verdict will be, we can already safely assume that political campaigning will never be the same again for most countries in the world (at least the more developed ones vis a vis internet access).
  • It is also clear that in as much Obama crossed dividing lines between reds and blues, he also showed – in a way that no advertising, consulting or academic organization ever could – that there are no more dividing lines between on-line and off-line campaigning. The politicians that still think along those lines will meet John McCain at the margins of history.  
  • Also, we should observe the fact that Obama’s campaign was “top-down” driven by definition. He just understood too well and adopted the grass-root character of the medium which really sets it apart from any other traditional channel of communication. The internet’s mobilizing, collaborative, user-driven nature but still largely leader-inspired. I dare assume that for all its sophistication, if McCain had exactly the same campaign weaponry, he would not enjoy the kind of gains Obama has had.

Final comment: As I have said again and again, commercial marketing has a lot to learn from political marketing and not the other way round. Obama’s campaign is now the best example I will have to push this message convincingly. That is, if the counter-intuitive introversion of marketers and ad agencies alike, does not block them totally within their uncomfortable “comfort zone” (see also this article by AdAge).


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