Reliving the Obama campaign trail
THE most powerful marketing campaign ever in US presidential history cannot be overlooked by anyone on this planet. More so, you, the discerning reader.
“Barack Obama is three things you want in a brand,” says Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide. “New, different, and attractive. That’s as good as it gets.”
Obama tapped into the power of social networking with the help of 24-year-old Chris Hughes, who at Harvard was helping launch Facebook with his roommates. Hughes took leave from Facebook to do online organising for Obama. In the end, Obama’s e-mail list numbered 13 million people, of whom more than 3.5 million were donors or volunteers, or both!
Obama’s inclusive website plus endearing rhetoric reinforced the notion that everyone is included and that his movement is actually a conversation to which everyone is invited. And which respected the intelligence of the American people.
This week, I spoke to Roger Fisk, Obama’s National Director of Special Events, who travelled through 32 states with Senator Obama and was at his side as the country was introduced to the young man who would win the presidency and make history.
When you first started working on Obama’s campaign at its infancy, did you ever think that he will be the 44th President of the United States?
I did believe he would be President. To work this hard for anyone it must be based on a belief that they can win and that they can do the job. I was convinced of both very early on.
Fund raising was key, how did this campaign manage to gain so much support?
In 2007, we spent a lot of time doing open-press low dollar events that basically looked like rallies. This was without precedent in American politics; the idea that you could do rallies that generated thousands of dollars of free press while having enough people attend and donate small amounts of money and the rally not only pays for itself but actually generates a profit.
Add to that our intense data collection at all our events – which was a huge priority to make sure we could follow up with anyone who came to an Obama event, and our single visit low-dollar donor very quickly became a supporter who we could tap once a month with little more than an e-mail.
Obama is considered very tech savvy...
Critical to understanding the entire campaign is the faith the campaign had in the American people.
Our online tools were open to everyone and through mybarackobama.com people were able to invent their own organising tools, be it a holiday weekend barbeque where people came to a house party and gave 10 dollars to the Obama campaign or through artists doing open gallery shows with the proceeds helping the campaign. We were intent on having everyone “be the campaign”.
How big was the team on Obama’s presidential campaign?
When I joined the campaign, the people travelling the country could be counted on both hands. In the end, there were over 2,500 employees.
I saw Senator Obama with the families of soldiers who had died in Iraq and watched as he comforted them and listened to their stories. I was with him when we did a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live and we laughed to ourselves about how much fun it was to do something like that in secrecy.
Obama’s chief speech writer Jon Favreau was 26 when he wrote those inspirational speeches for President Obama...
Yes, they met during the 2004 convention when Jon worked for John Kerry, whom I also worked for at the time.
They struck up a personal relationship and the trust formed became the foundation of their friendship.
Sledgehammer is looking forward to hosting Roger Fisk, National Director of Special Events for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, in KL on March 2. Details from firstname.lastname@example.org