and with Not Using Marketing in Politics
Originally posted on Steve Cuno’s personal blog
Though I make my living as a marketer, and hold that marketing is in many cases beneficial, I am the first to concede that there are areas where it should have no place. Politics is one of them.
When marketing persuades you to try a brand of soap, you risk a few dollars. When it persuades you try a brand of political candidate, you risk far more. Things like, oh, I dunno, war, mayhem, economic woes and social injustice, perhaps.
Trouble is, eliminating marketing from politics or any other area is easier said than done. Even if you were to ban paid political advertising (which I am not convinced is a good idea anyway) or try to regulate it (good luck pinning down standards and closing loopholes), you would fall short. Paid advertising is only a subset of marketing. Every platform plank constitutes marketing and brand-building. So does winning over or offending reporters and commentators. So does every speech. So does a candidate’s gender, race, appearance, grooming and dress. So does choosing to stump Iowa and not, say, Utah.
Nor does it help that the voting public is largely uninformed.* Apathy aside, with today’s glut of issues, information and misinformation, it could hardly be otherwise. So it is that, despite rhetoric about issues and “the good of the nation,” we as a public tend to vote for the brand with which we identify.
Just as we use our wallets to vote for a brand of soap.
I am not the first to make these observations, nor am I the first to find them not a little troubling.
Though eliminating marketing from politics is easier said than done, there is something to be said for at least seeking to reign it in, or to ensure responsible use. Now, if only someone had a clue as to how to go about it. Self-regulation would be nice. So would flying pigs.
* The voting public is largely uninformed — A safe statement indeed. Most people believe themselves smarter and better informed than the average. Never mind that it is a statistical impossibility for all to be right on that particular point.