To modify what Shakespeare said about lawyers, I say: "First, kill all the consultants."
I don't mean "kill" in the mortal sense. I do mean drum 'em out of town.
OK, just one example. When Sen. Hillary Clinton announced her Presidential candidacy last week, she did so while sitting on a comfy couch in a faux living room. Soft colors and tones, soft voice.
I wonder how many political, and for that matter, decorative consultants were involved in the decision- to do it via Internet video (nod to smarter younger voters)? A living room (hey, she's houseproud just like you, white suburban voter), she has aesthetic sense for calm colors (hey, she's not a cold calculating type).
Maybe some focus groups were involved in the research for this production as well. I wouldn't be surprised if Hillary's consultants researched this all the way to the colors of the couch pillows. Boy would I have loved to be a fly on the wall at that coffee-and-cookies focus group session. Her every word? Focus tested as well.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? The type of research-driven marketing efforts going on here is exactly how product marketers and ad agencies research campaigns for you to buy their product.
What the political consultants don't seem to understand, though, is that after decades of being marketed at- not to but at-millions of discerning, branding-sick Americans have bullshit detectors that enable them to realize when they are being patronized in this matter.
When we see a new color on a cereal box, read about a tv network change their name, or hear "More Than A Feeling" by Boston twice in one day on the oldies station, we know that it is marketing research at work. Same in politics: "Good jobs at good wages"-Dukakis; "Kinder and gentler"- first Bush; "Lockbox", and I am convinced "the Kiss" -Gore; "I was an altar boy"-Kerry, (meant to win over conservative religious voters, as if); "Al-Queda" "Al-Queda," (98 more times)- Bush now.
And, uh, Hillary with the soft couch. Message I am getting: Hey, she's tough (will stand up to North Korea and Iran) but she's feminine.
But why all the focus tested artifice?
I for one, have had enough of political consultants, the vanilla focus-group research that lights their way, and the marketing campaigns they design.
I want a President. I don't want a brand.