Perhaps not a surprising comment from an MBA and former marketing executive. Yet Naomi Klein, author of the seminal anti-corporate book, No Logo, wrote recently of the dangers of this type of branding, which was once only reserved for corporate advertising. Such political branding is nothing new; one saw it as well with the Bush administration. The former president "had used his ranch in Crawford, Texas, as a backdrop to perform his best impersonation of the Marlboro man, forever clearing brush, having cookouts and wearing cowboy boots." Corporate privatization plagued the Iraq War (branded The War on Terror), from Halliburton supply contracts to the introduction of Blackwater (now re-branded "Xe Services") mercenaries.
But is Obama even worse?
Klein argues that our current president "[favors] the grand symbolic gesture over deep structural change every time." For example, while he announced the end of the aforementioned Iraq War, he followed that with an escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He stated his support for "green" energy initiatives, yet he continues to endorse so-called "clean coal" technology and refuses to tax factory emissions.
[T]his unwillingness to stick to a morally clear if unpopular course, is where Obama decisively parts ways with the transformative political movements from which he has borrowed so much (the pop-art posters from Che, his cadence from King, his "Yes We Can!" slogan from the migrant farmworkers – si se puede)....Obama, in sharp contrast not just to social movements but to transformative presidents such as FDR, follows the logic of marketing: create an appealing canvas on which all are invited to project their deepest desires but stay vague enough not to lose anyone...
What do you believe? Is it too soon to judge? Or is the Obama presidency just a political version of "both Coke [the megabrand] and Honest Tea [the upstart]"?