At 1:00 pm in the tiny town of Unity, New Hampshire, Senators Clinton and Obama made a joint campaign appearance (LA Times). The event couldn’t have been orchestrated better. The name of the town – Unity. The matching colors of Mr. Obama’s tie and Mrs. Clinton’s pant-suit. The fact that the two tied the votes 107 to 107 during the primaries. And even Hillary-time, always 30 minutes behind schedule, was moved up to Obama-time.
The theme of unity was matched with many verbal and non-verbal cues. The light kiss on Mrs. Clinton’s cheek by Obama. His hand gently on her back as he guided her on-stage, and after she gave her ringing endorsement. Her unqualified support of the man who stood in the way of her destiny to become the first woman president of the United States.
And then there were the memorable quotes.
“She rocks!” Obama exclaimed, after someone in the audience pointed that out. He repeated it a couple of times, satisfied that those two words were more powerful than the praises that he was throwing at her. He demonstrated his uncanny ability to play the crowd, when the Obama chant started while Hillary was speaking, trying to silence them, but then urging them on when the chant switched to “HILL-AR-Y!” even motioning with his hand, like a conductor willing his orchestra.
Clinton delivered one of her own, comparing McCain to Bush, saying, “McCain and Bush are two sides of the same coin, and that doesn’t amount to any change.” That’s one that would be repeated over and over in the campaign.
In the world of political communications, images and symbolisms are everything. If this were a business, we’d call it branding. The Obama brand outperformed the Clinton brand in the primaries, and the big questions is whether it has enough momentum to beat the McCain brand.
I tell clients what I heard from Professor Kotler, when it comes to branding—It is the promise of an experience. Barack is promising that if people buy his message, they will have something that is different from the last 7 ½ years. John McCain is promising that if they don’t buy his message, they’ll be sending another greenie into the White House, but of course, he couldn’t exactly say that about the current President.
This brand that Obama and Clinton calls UNITY sounda promising. Now we will have a chance to see if the promise becomes reality and turns into an experience.