DENVER -- The same team that put together Britney Spears' last tour created the stage where Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Presidential Nomination last night. Is that a problem? Not really.
There are only so many world-class "event designers" and for them it's not about specializing. It's about knowing how to evaluate the appeal of a brand, about creating excitement. Every brand -- or in this case, every candidate -- needs to be a rock star to succeed in this cluttered age.
Did the Invesco stage work for or against Obama?
In the days and hours before the acceptance speech, the conservative press nicknamed the Greek-columned set the "Temple of Obama" and "Barackopolis." Fake photos showing Obama in a toga popped up all over the blogosphere.
Stage-construction images airing on Thursday afternoon didn't help matters because the empty stadium only made the backdrop look more like ancient Greece, and more in-the-round than it really was. Remember the Galactic Senate in "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones?" That's how it looked. I instinctively scanned the rows and rows of empty seats looking for Yoda and Jar Jar Binks.
Whoever leaked information about the set to the mainstream media was just asking for trouble. My colleagues in the Auto Show business know better. Even Jar Jar Binks knows better, and he's an idiot. "Monsters out there. Leaking in here. Whena yousa thinking we are in trouble?" Cut through the dialect and you have a Gungan Senator who knows when to keep his mouth shut.
How to spot a failed set design
OffTheBus spoke with Keith Goldberg, creative vice president, George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, Auburn Hills, Mich., to find out what success looks like. "A set works when it's an experience that dimensionalizes the candidate," said Goldberg. "Ideally a set serves as a window into the candidate's life experience, enabling the audience to connect with him in a deep and meaningful manner."
From the looks of the Invesco Field stage, I can only surmise Obama was raised in the Parthenon.
"Know your audience, know your message, and craft an experience that reflects where those two things meet," Goldberg added. "A set fails when it goes off-brand, meaning it doesn't represent well the message being articulated."
I thought something was off-message when Sheryl Crow sang "a change will do you good" on a stage resembling Old Washington. When Al Gore said, "Don't recycle the old Bush policies," I thought to myself, "But the Obama Camp recycled the old Bush stage!"
Don't get me started on the music they chose for the finale...