I am awaiting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s first TV appearance as running mates as I write this. I received the email announcement early this morning from the Obama campaign, a couple of hours after the information got leaked in the New York Times.
I didn’t get a text message, but that may be because I signed up for text notification too late. But even before the New York Times broke the news last night, Twitter and Friendfiend were already buzzing about the presence of Secret Service at Biden’s house. By then it was just a matter of public confirmation. The Obama campaign did a great job at keeping the VP choice a secret until the last minute. The Obama VP announcement was a resounding success in generating excitement. From a marketing perspective, the “Be the First to Know” campaign was pure genius.
I’ll leave it to the political pundits to analyze and riff on Biden’s political impact on the Obama candidacy. But I’m personally happy with Obama’s choice. I think Biden would make a good Vice-President. It’s about time they put some balls in this campaign.
What I’d like to focus on at the moment is my admiration for the people running the Obama campaign, because they get it. They know how to leverage internet and instant communication technologies to maximize their marketing efforts.
I said marketing because Obama is not just a politician running for president. Obama is a brand. A damn good and juicy brand. The people running Obama’s campaign are excellent grassroots marketers. They have successfully tapped into the lucrative marketing channel of the internet on building Obama’s amazing money machine. And now they are tapping into the power of instant communication technology–text messaging–not only to market the Obama brand, but more importantly, to mobilize people as the election day draws near.
By now the Obama campaign have already hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of email addresses in their mailing lists–a direct marketer’s wet dream. With the “Be the First to Know” campaign, they’ve probably collected hundreds of thousands of mobile phone numbers, a lot of which are from a crucial voting demographics known as millennials–“individuals born, roughly, between 1980 and 1994.” Young people are not known for their voting records and interest in politics. But in this election, the Obama campaign had captured the majority of this demographic because of the campaign’s embrace of the internet and mobile instant communication technology.
Text messaging is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe and Asia. But the Obama campaign understand the power of this technology to mobilize people. For instance, it was through the power of text messaging that the People Power in the Philippines had toppled the Estrada administration. The Obama campaign is now banking on the viral nature of text messages to mobilize people. I can already imagine text messages like this spreading like wildfire during election day: “C u @ d polls. wear ur Obama shirt, k?!”
Obama and McCain’s big generational gap is reflected in the style of their campaign. McCain’s campaign is more traditional (e.g. town hall meetings, attack ads) while Obama’s is more tech-savvy (e.g. Twitter, Youtube, social networks, killer website, text messaging; see Obama’s Wide Web). If and when Obama wins the presidential race (which I believe he will), then a crucial factor could be credited to Obama’s embrace of millennial marketing–the same grassroots movement that won him the Democratic primary.
c u @ d polls. vote Obama-Biden, k?! thx! xoxox.