The Obama Advertising Strategy

Ben Shapiro is a Senior Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Editor-in-Chief of TruthRevolt.org. He is the author of the new book "The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against the Obama Administration" (Threshold Editions).


Last week, Expedia released a web ad featuring an older Jewish man, Arnie Goldstein, deciding to take a trip. Where’s he traveling? Why, to the lesbian wedding of his daughter, of course! “This is not the dream I had for my daughter,” he narrates. “Coming out to the wedding from back east, I had some real apprehensions about it. What’s this going to look like, two girls getting married? You have to make a decision. Are you going to have a daughter that you’re going to maintain a very wonderful relationship with for the rest of your life? Or are you going to lose that child?”

Now, this sounds like a very serious moral quandary. But no, it’s just an ad for an online travel agency. “All that trepidation just seemed to go away,” says the dad. “That was a big turning point. Walking Jill down the aisle … Judy and I were just swelling with emotion. You come to terms with it and you say it’s a very natural order of things in your life, and it’s supposed to be that way.”

Whether or not it’s supposed to be that way is up for debate – certainly thousands of years of human society tend to argue the opposite. But in advertising, it’s clear that pandering works. There’s a reason that Oreo has endorsed same-sex marriage with a six-layer rainbow cookie and the slogan “Proudly Support Love!” Pandering to particular communities works.

This is something the advertising community has always known: know your audience, and market to it. It’s why your satellite dish carries 205 channels, even though you only watch four of them. Somewhere, there’s some lonely old shut-in desperate to watch Lifetime. And Lifetime is there to pander to her. Where we all used to watch NBC, ABC, or CBS, now dad watches ESPN, son watches SPIKE, daughter watches MTV, and mom watches Oxygen. And gay friend watches LOGO or Showtime.

None of which is to argue that choice should be limited. If you want to shop at Expedia because they seem to like lesbian weddings, more power to you. But there is no question that our common morality has been fragmented by a marketing machine geared toward communities instead of individuals.

All of which is fine in the context of product sales. The biggest problem is that in today’s modern politics, marketing strategies have been adapted to fit politics. Thus the Obama campaign strongly resembles your cable package: African Americans for Obama, Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Obama, Catholics for Obama, Educators for Obama, Environmentalists for Obama, Jewish Americans for Obama, Latinos for Obama, LGBT Americans for Obama, Native Americans for Obama, Nurses for Obama, Parents for Obama, People of Faith for Obama, People With Disabilities for Obama, Rural Americans for Obama, Seniors for Obama, Small Business Owners for Obama, Sportsmen for Obama, Veterans & Military Families for Obama, Women for Obama, Young Americans for Obama.

All of those are real groups on Obama’s website.

And that’s sad.

When political campaigns encourage you to vote based on identity politics rather than who you believe will represent America best, the concept of deliberative democracy breaks down. The founders understood that faction was perhaps the greatest danger to any republic; that’s why they focused on interest counteracting interest, so that in order for anything major to happen, Americans would have to think beyond their own personal interests. That’s why the founders built a system of checks and balances.

But the progressive left did away with that system. They decided that the governmental action on behalf of discrete and insular minorities, to use the left’s favored legal phrase, was the most important task of the government. To achieve it, Americans would continue to vote along lines of identity politics – but the system would now have no checks or balances.

Politics should require either a people who think in terms of the greater good, or a government built to filter out parochialism. Our government today has neither. We have become an Expedia government: pandering to each group, and forgetting to serve the whole.

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  • Banastre Tarleton

    True enough , it was Lenin who said that cinema is the greatest propaganda device ever created and he would know !……even the prophetic George Orwell never seemed to recognise the power of seducement as ''soft propaganda '' in the entertainment industry that has shaped and crafted the worldview of a generation of uninformed and vacuous voters ….Obama is merely the result !…. an articulate poseur with a seductive voice who is also a black , politically correct metrosexual with a Hollywood-esque wife who can even sing and dance ; a perfect Hollwood creation and so wonderfully in the ''spirit of the times ''
    Obama may be a political milli vinilli and an epic fraud in love with his own reflection , but he's a true product of his environment and short of a miracle will be re-elected

    • BS77

      not so fast with your conclusion.

    • Questions

      Lenin was wrong. And it was clear that despite his regime's best efforts, he could not inspire mass loyalty to Communism, whether through film or the written word.

      • intrcptr2

        Not true. The number of people behind the Iron Curtain who prefer the old days would likely astound. A friend who recently naturalized, from the Ukraine, tells me such. The trick is that the masses can always be led by the motivated few; in 1917 it was Bolsheviks, in 1989 it was "liberals". The question is who in America is more motivated…

        On a brighter note, she also tells me that bus service is magnitudes better, now that various private providers have begun buying busses in Germany to service far-flung villages and cities across Ukraine (Her mother lives "near" Poltava).

      • Banastre Tarleton

        Only because it failed the practical test of time ….those Russian peasants were mere clay in the hands of the propagandists

    • Walt

      One more correction – Obama is not black, he is Arab!

      • Banastre Tarleton

        Part black but more Arab , to be exact

  • Harvey

    Its a sad fact that most people dont even consider the well being of our nation any longer when they go to the polls to vote for either a President or a member of Congress or even our local elections,if they bother to go vote at all.They vote personalities,they vote according to ones skin color or they vote according to how some idiot movie star tells them to vote or they let some million dollar commercial that has nothing to do with the truth sway them.This is a sad fact and the very Idea of someone loveing their Country now days is laughed at.I do know one thing to be a fact,this Nation cannot stand another four years of policies that are designed to destroy this once great Nation and if enough people vote for Obama to re-elect him in four more years there will no longer be a free America.Please consider your votes carefully,they may be the last you ever cast as a free American,THE NEXT ELECTION YOU MAY BE TOLD HOW TO VOTE,THINK ABOUT IT.

  • pierce

    Just what is Obama strategy? To change America into something that was never intended, that is to say no longer the home of the free, and the land of the brave, but to apologize to the world for those attributes, to have no backbone. That is not the America I grew up in, and I don't like it. I am proud to be an American, and I am not proud of what Obama is attempting to do. The man may be President, but he has disgusted me and a whole lot more.

  • Ricky Michael

    What is so sad is that there is no longer any truth or ethics , in the media, in politics, and especially from the democratic party. Just look at the slanderous name calling coming from those who run the Obama campaign is just revolting, totally devoid of any form of ethics what-so-ever.

    Then add in all the lies, where they are caught telling them, out right. So–this is where we are going for now on? Outrageous! An example, we are now, by a miracle, at 7.8% unemployment? Right after the debate where he (B.O.) got slammed for not being under 8% like he promised? This doesn't pass the smell test, it reeks with deceit.

    • BS77

      the unemployment figures are totally concocted, cooked and spun into pure propaganda. There are over twenty million Americans out of work. Many have quit looking. The statistics are meant to nuance dumb bunny voters into going for the libstream media selection. Hack journalism and Orwellian indoctrination, by commercials, ads, polls, editorials and news reporting are pushing the desired results.

      • Ricky Michael

        I would have to agree. And I would add that taking the "under employed" or part time workers off the table and now calling them employed is in effect, cheating the statistics. They still don't have enough money to make ends meet because all they can find is part time work.

        This truth will not fool anyone. The ones still not working will vote like it, with a vengeance.

  • Schlomotion

    The logic of this article works very well. If Obama has all of these identity interest groups supporting him, then one can say: Mitt Romney has failed to capture the identity vote.

    This could be a pretty good indictment of the Republican Party as well. The Republican Party abandoned its ideals of Constitutionalism, small government, low taxation, and low spending years ago. Now the fact that they also don't garner the support of any enclaves but oil producers, and given that oil producers are foisting high prices on Americans, they are pretty screwed as a party.

    • Ricky Michael

      They are the better of the two choices available. If I thought that the Tea Party would win, that is where my vote would go, but alas.

      • Schlomotion

        I cannot vote for either of these two men simply out of a desire to "win." I would rather cast my vote for someone who will lose than cast my vote for a loser.

        • Ricky Michael

          I understand your decision completely. I have had the same dilemma happening in my own mind. I hope your guy wins in spite of me.

          Assuming that he is the Tea Party guy and not of the Communist party.

        • Andy H.

          You start with an intelligent assessment and then end up with a childish, counterproductive move defeating yourself.

        • Omar

          So, Schlomotion, you will be voting for the lunatic Roseanne Barr, won't you?

    • Ar'nun

      Or perhaps Romney captured the vote of those who consider themselves American, first and foremost. And Obama has captured those who consider themselves one of these identity groups first and Americans second.

      • Schlomotion

        How does that explain the Zionist vote?

        • Zionista

          more proof of your stupidity – Jews who vote for barry are libs/leftists first – liberalism/leftism is their true religion

          • Schlomotion

            How does that explain the Zionist vote for Romney? Those aren't identity politics?

          • Jordan Ariel

            I'm a "Jewish Zionist" and I'm definately voting for Romney. President Obama has had a term to make America a better place in regards to the economy and quality of life for all Americans. I think he failed in that regard. I think if he were to pursue the same policies that he has been… things will get worse. I fear him in power with out having to worry about getting re-elected.

            I would think that Christians and Muslims have a general interest in how American policies affect the middle east. Catholics have a vested interest in America's relationship with the Vatican. G-d forbid Jews have any care at all towards the land of our ancestors.

            I read what you write Schlomotion frequently and you seem to be deathly afraid of the Jewish Zionist boogeyman and you and many like you refuse to believe in the possibility that us crazy evil American Zionists actually care about America. If your life depended on it… you'd be dead wrong.

        • Omar

          Why don't you talk about the Islamist vote? The Islamists have far more power in the international arena than anyone else.

    • Ghostwriter

      No,Schlomind. Those are Jews who ACTUALLY think. You on the other hand,are a Jew-hating creep.

      • Schlomotion

        Easy for you to say. You don't stand by your own words.

    • reader

      Oh. Playing alynkyite pretend i'm not an Obama shill game again, troll? I see there're still suckers for this garbage. Little consolation in liew of the latest trends, eh?

  • clarespark

    It is true that some early progressives introduced identity politics as an alternative to red revolution, but the real turning point was in the late 1930s, as FDR's Leviathan state gained adherents from big capital, who went over to Keynesian economics and erased the very idea of the striving, truth-seeking individual. The social psychologists of this group went on to create psychological warfare that looted Hitler's bag of tricks, redefining the Enlightenment and the legacy of the Founders. I wrote about that process here: http://clarespark.com/2009/12/12/switching-the-en…. "Switching the Enlightenment: Corporatist Liberalism and the Revision of American History. It was quite medieval in conception and lauded the Leader principle. Some might call it fascism American style..

    • Questions

      Apparently it isn't just the Left who enjoys making highly questionable Hitler parallels.

      • clarespark

        I am a professional historian and don't make comparison lightly, like some kid in OWS. My research is published on this topic and you can find it in several chapters of my book Hunting Captain Ahab.

      • clarespark

        If you want examples, go to http://clarespark.com/2010/04/18/links-to-nazi-sy…. "Nazi sykewar American style" in four parts. From a reliable published source, ca 1941.

  • mlcblog

    The striving, truth-seeking individual…we're still here!!! I really do not think they can wipe us out, much as they would like to and bad as it may look for us at times. We just continue to pray and prosper. Drives 'em nuts. Maybe that is why liberalism is a mental disorder!!

  • Ashraf

    Speaking of advertising strategy, what do you think of this?: “All not lost, Team Obama resorts to fallback position after debate thrashing.” (See image>>>>) https://twitter.com/i/#!/cvilize/media/slideshow?…

  • Thomas Wells

    "Morons for Obama". His only true identity group.

  • Ashraf

    NOTE TO SITE ADMINISTRATOR: Somehow the link in my comment got truncated and now it doesn’t go where it’s supposed to. Please delete the comment or restore the link. Here’s a shorter link, which may work better. http://tinyurl.com/9qufphr