Once again we find great business lessons in the world of politics. It’s not really that far-fetched, by the way, that I keep making these comparisons. How often do you hear about politicians as products? Anyway – today’s lesson has to do with sending out messages by your actions that are different from the actions your words suggest would be in tune with your brand identity.
I’m talking, of course, about Governor Palin’s $150,000 shopping spree following her nomination. If you’ve been on Mars for the last 24 hours, or if your ISP has conked out, The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August, Politico reported. Now, I’m the first to recognize the need for someone put in her position to look good and represent her party and the ticket well. However, the message it sends out is so contrary to so many of the principles espoused by that very same ticket. A blog in St. Louis said it well:
But, seriously. Working moms, hockey moms, stay-at-home moms: Have you cut down on your clothes shopping as the economy has worsened? Does $150,000 seem over-the-top to the women Palin is most looking to connect with?
I don’t think all the clothing my family owns cost $150,000. Now, I spent a lot of time in sports so I received a bunch of clothing as promotional items (and by the way, those of you who have access to that swag, I’m in need of new stuff – I can email you my shipping address). Still, I have to think that most folks’ clothing budgets are probably a few zeros less than the Governor’s.
Mrs. Joe Six Pack ad Mrs. Joe The Plumber are NOT spending this kind of dough and, frankly, RNC, if you’re going to stay with the brand identity in which millions have been invested, neither can you. Again, my interest here is not about the politics of this: the cognitive dissonance about the brand is deafening. Marketers need to have a consistent brand message, either spoken or unspoken, to be effective. Part of the beauty of bringing in outside entities like consultants is that we aren’t hard wired into the day to day thinking that might blind you to what you’re really saying to consumers. In this case, there may not be time left to get back on message.