it’s not politics – it’s marketing

This isn’t about politics. No. The just concluded election turned the corner on how America communicates and in the process opened the door to the new face of marketing that’s savvy, smart and hip.

Reporting in the October 13, 2008 edition of Powersports Business News, editor Neil Pascale singled out brand consultant Paul Leinberger’s comments from the Suzuki national dealer meeting in Las Vegas. Ready? “The most important thing you have at your dealership is your web site.”

Back to Obama. The campaign conducted in very large part via an elegant and super efficient URL is on track to sweep every marketing awards category on the planet. Maybe beyond.

You don’t have to like politics to stand slack-jawed and stupid in front of the promo machine spec built by the pros from Chicago. From zero to seven thousand m.p.h. in two years, they introduced a totally unknown brand with a difficult at best product name and grabbed the brass ring.

It’s like deciding to take on Coke with a new warm cola beverage named It’s Not That Bad – and winning the first at-bat.

There’s plenty of detail elsewhere about the strategy and execution that’s already become legendary, but key factors for the campaign’s success include a distinctive logotype (Pepsi, anyone? Hint: the new generation) that actually involved serious graphic design, a web site that totally redefines the notion of content, and a complete mastery of social networking, internet style. Throw in drop dead collateral and POP and you’re halfway home.

If you’re looking for a perfect example of Web 2.0, this is it. In concept, design and construction, they’ve leveraged everything from social content to shopping cart with a ton of blog in between. User generated content, push marketing, and plenty of painfully hip gear were a few of the more obvious differences.

Think style points don’t count? Try counting the massive numbers of youngsters sporting any one of dozens of flavors of Obama apparal. Shirts, hoodies, watch caps, baseball caps – you name it, it was branded. Merchandised. And worn by millions.

But just branding isn’t enough. The designs nearly all revolve around LA graphic designer and Rhode Island School of Design grad Shepard Fairey now legendary interpretation of a web-downloaded Obama image that was reworked into a thirties-era graphic.

The donated style sense of one graphic designer merged with a truly revolutionary web strategy to produce what has to be judged as one of the most perfect examples to date of internet leveraging.

And that web site’s compiled one of the most extensive registered user databases this side of the IRS. Without doubt you can look for that speed and efficiency to be imported into the Obama White House in what can only be a massive headache for anyone else who might want the keys down the road.

Forty years – count ’em – after author Joe McGinniss’ benchmark bestseller “The Selling of the President 1968”, in which he revealed the first use ever of ad agencies by presidential campaigns (Nixon and Humphrey) to market the candidates as brands, not individuals, the Obama people took John McCain to the woodshed of popular opinion.

So if you’ve been fence-sitting on making up your mind as to whether or not this whole web content thing was a fad or not, we bring news. The train’s done left the station. And you’ve probably got a tough sprint to catch up while it’s still in sight if you’re not already onboard.