Friday, August 20, 2010

Political campaigns - branding on steroids?

I promise this will be my last entry on the Aussie election campaign. But there is a strange mesh between what I've been observing and what someone said to me the other week about merging with another organisation.

He said that achieving stakeholder buy-in to a merger, and the launch of a new brand, requires running a campaign - more akin to a political campaign than an advertising campaign. Great time to suggest this don't you think? I almost wanted to rush home and take notes as Tony and Julia traded blows - or at least their campaign teams did.

But I resisted the temptation. As I remarked the other week, with a merger planned for completion in about two years, it would be hard to 'maintain the rage', to quote a line from a bygone political campaign, for such an extended period. Stakeholders Australia-wide would drink to that notion as the electronic media blackout on election advertising descended the other night.

Every election we choose from two brands (with due respect to the Greens and Bob Brown, who I can predict with certainty won't be prime minister on Sunday). The campaigns promoting them are branding on steroids. They're brands muscling up to each other, with messages often trying to encourage us to forget brand heritage as we look to the future.

What does this leave us with? Will we actually buy into one of these brands, or are we comparing two commoditised products from which we will ultimately select the one that will cost us less? How often could you get away in the commercial world, with a brand strategy based on debunking competitors?

This is what makes political campaigns fascinating from a brand perspective and that's why I disagree that running a political campaign to secure stakeholder buy-in for a company merger is not quite right. Selling a merger will require close attention to identifying and promoting positive attributes. I haven't seen much evidence of this in the 2010 election campaign.

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