If you’re still trying to figure out how someone so “shocking and unpleasant” is about to become the chaser to that smooth taste of Obama still on your lips, well then, I have answers. They explain Obama and Trump’s victories and a new necessity that the losers were slow to realize.
I’ve sat with former members of the Obama administration, plus progressives, conservatives and executives in finance, technology, and philanthropy to figure this out, but they didn’t know either.
Then I listened to global marketing guru Sally Hogshead’s 2016 audiobook “Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist.” And suddenly, it all made simple, scary sense.
Sally doesn’t talk about politics at all in her book, but it could have easily been titled “Why Obama and Trump Are The Blueprint for Future Presidential Candidates In The Era of Super Content Saturation.”
Sally says you can’t hold people’s attention for longer than 6 seconds in this super saturated era unless your product is fascinating. Not better, not qualified – fascinating.
Remember, people argued that neither Obama nor Trump was qualified – and it just didn’t matter.
To really understand this point, Sally says consider Jägermeister, a liquor world-renown for being so shockingly unpleasant to drink that people involuntarily shudder when they think about the taste of it.
Yet over 31-million dark green square bottles of the thick brown “spice liquor” are sold every year in America, alone.
Donald Trump is the Jägermeister of politicians. Nothing smooth about him. Strong, raw, shocking and unpleasant; you shake your head and grimace after a taste – and then you tell all your friends about what happened for days.
Sally says Jägermeister is incredibly “popular and disliked.” Check and check. In fact, maybe we should think of Jägermeister as the Donald Trump of alcohols.
Either way, the moral of the story is the same.
“Different is better than better,” says Hogshead, “Your customers want the orange ticket. They want to be engaged and fascinated. Give people the orange ticket and you can leverage a distinct attitude and mindset and point-of-view.”
“The orange ticket.” Sound like anyone you know?
Fascinate; isn’t that what Trump did? Isn’t that what Obama did the first time he ran? Isn’t that what Clinton didn’t do either times that she ran?
It may sound trite at first glance but look again.
These insights make it painfully clear that for today’s consumers, Presidential races are just marketing campaigns now. And we no longer “buy” based on “features” such as a candidate’s qualifications or “benefits” such as their policies.
Today, like any other iconic marketing campaign, whoever can sound the most different, get the most attention (controversy is still attention), and maintain their belief in their own superiority has a distinct advantage over the rest of the field.
Whether it’s Jager, iPhone, Obama, or Trump we’ve clearly stopped choosing based on qualifications; today you must “fascinate your customer” or you can get trumped by those who do.
Trabian Shorters is a New York Times bestselling author, Aspen Fellow and founder of BMe Community, a movement inspired by black men to build a better future for us all. Nominate someone for a “Black Men’s Genius Award” at www.BMeCommunity.org