"Ladies and Gentlemen, our flight is currently circling New York City because President Obama's in our airspace." said the pilot of my American flight last Thursday. President Obama is everywhere. He is the Eveready Bunny. He is Forrest Gump. He is at the Kremlin, then in Rome with the G8 and the Pope, then giving stirring speeches in Ghana. Suddenly there he is lofting the opening pitch in St. Louis at the baseball All-Star game, and afterward he is in the TV booth providing color commentary, now he is headed to New York to speak before the NAACP. He shows up on the cover of Parade for Father's Day, on CNBC to swat a fly, on Jay Leno. He is super accessible. The first family is too. We see Michelle on a magazine cover every month. We know what she is wearing, what she is eating, how her garden grows. Even the girls are visible with their slumber parties and dog walks. The First Family is ever present in our lives. President Obama is out there.
What has happened to the usual communications protocols and controls? We are used to rare sightings tied to well-rehearsed photo ops. Suddenly we have a president that is totally at ease in the public and seems to love it. Obama appears confident and in charge, even when it is killing a fly single handedly on national television. On one hand, this is great -- here is the Man of the Moment being a Man of the People. We elected him and he is happy to share with us how he is spending time serving us. It is good to see him at work. It is good to know what he is thinking, where he is, who he is meeting with. It is nice to see his intelligent, lovely wife involved in the larger community and with her family. It is great to learn what makes them tick. We are happy to finally have a president with nothing to hide (except the occasional cigarette).
But, we are only six months into this administration. What about too much exposure? We tend to be fickle. We get bored easily. We like short news cycles. It's Susan Boyle (who?) last month, Michael Jackson this one, and we are riveted by the daily news event. It is our natural inclination to build up our heroes and then tear them down. Frankly, it is getting to be a bit of a joke -- where will Obama pop up next? Is it really him in all these places? Maybe he has a body double. Is the Obama brand becoming too ubiquitous?
Sustainable brands such as Coca-Cola or to take an individual, Madonna, have a few things in common:
- The sustainable brand stays true to its brand essence, or in non-marketing speak, it stays real. The brand is what it is.
- The brand remains relevant -- it is able transition from generation to generation -- without losing its cache, its cool.
- The brand is more than just the product -- it has meaning beyond a can of soda or a performer -- it inspires followers, it lives in multiple environments.
- The brand moves you. It makes you feel something.
- It moves you to act.
Will we tire of Brand Obama a year from now? Not if he stays on brand and guards the attributes that make him so very compelling (even for those who don't support his views or politics): his cool, confident demeanor that says "I will take care of it. " And his open, trusting posture, coupled of course with his amazing ability to seemingly be in three places at once, to swat a fly dead, to dunk a basketball, to get the Kremlin to reduce missiles and to dare to push healthcare reform in the middle of an economic crisis. If he can keep it up, then we can certainly keep interested.