Mar 23, 2009

Obama series 2/3: Vision and Ownership

We’re on a journey through the Obama campaign and in this second of three posts we’ll unpack two other big factors in Obama’s winning strategy: the way he used vision and gave ownership.


Obama created a new vision and was able to communicate it such that he achieved agreement from his supporters.  This inspired a generation to take ownership for communicating this to their peers.  It signalled their backing for the ‘audacity of hope’.  We are Americans’ he said, ‘We can do anything if we put our minds to it’.  Why is this clever?  It’s a story that appeals to our subconscious without believing that he is trying to sell us a vision.  But he is already.  He’s telling a third party story, (which includes the audience), that draws them in, because every time Obama says something the audience finds themselves nodding in agreement.  One of our clients recently started a ‘cultural transformation programme’ and in this document they stated that the reason why they wanted to implement this new culture was that it would enable them to ‘transform their industry’.  That is a bold claim.  When we saw the faces of the Emerging Talent group that would be a part of the team to help do this, their eyes lit up.  They realised they were on the edge of something huge, and they wanted to be on the winning side.


On the campaign website Obama writes this:  I’m asking you to believe. Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington... I’m asking you to believe in yours.  He was asking for their support.  He didn’t just say, “I’m going to do this”, he said “If we really want this, If you believe it, I need your support to make it happen”  Suddenly Obama and the American supporters were on a journey together.  This led to enormous public participation in many different forms.  User generated content played one of the biggest roles it will have ever in any election worldwide (remember Obama Girl?). Looking at this you might think, well that’s just stupid, a bit of fun.  But how many views did this one piece of home-made video have? In excess of 13 million!  Does it have to do with the girl in the video? Most probably! And...Does it raise the subconscious, is it viral (does it have a ‘pass it on’ quality), and did it appeal to Generation Y? Three ‘Yes-es’, better still, its UGC!  They felt a part of a team and they knew that their role was to create as much publicity for their cause as possible.  Another great example is the Microsoft ‘I’m a PC campaign’ – which created mass UGC.  The paradigm shift is in the distribution ability.

Next stop: Online Communities

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