No, it’s not Kobe Bryant.
It’s the man himself – Barack Obama, 2008 Presidential candidate and certified charmer. OK, that may be taking things a bit far. But seriously, Obama has tapped into an unparalleled youth support for his campaign. He’s struck gold. Young, impressionable, 18-25 year old gold.
As everyone oohs and ahhs about youth involvement in this election, people fail to understand that it’s not the politics our youth is so energized about – it’s Obama. Obama swiftly captured the heart and soul of America’s youth with his scintillating, yet extremely vague and empty of content, proclamation of change and progression, as proven in his overwhelming youth vote support in the state caucuses, most notably Iowa, and most recently Missouri .
Obama’s PR team has now elevated the concept of political branding to a new level. Gone are the days when candidates were forced to be tied to ideologies, numbers, and sets of policies. This just in: HOT – appealing to the raw emotion of voters with your personality. NOT – focusing on the “boring” stuff – aka - the actual politics behind your message of change.
In fact, I can confidently say that Obama’s PR team took a deep breath and gave traditional campaign techniques the nice big middle finger. Until now, nobody has been willing to give into what really sells to the youth: sex. excitement. change. charisma. fun. Obama’s camp is the first to get out there and just admit “Yep, that’s right. I’m not going to bore you to death with the details of my healthcare plans or my environmental views. I’m going to make you love me, and we can discuss the details at a later date.”
What other age group is going to go crazy over that then the Hollywood obsessed, party going, active and innovative, just entering the “real” world 18-25yr olds? We just moved out! We want to form opinions! We want to be part of groups! We want to be in with the “in crowd!” Suddenly the “cool” thing to do is be part of the campaign, and we all want in.
The 18-25yr old age group, the most diverse and the most tolerant generation in history, came of age in a politically disillusioned time period. We lived through the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Our first election we really understood was the unforgivable nightmare of 2000. Our major political events were 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. We haven’t believed in change. We’ve consistently lost hope in the American dream exponentially with each word Bush can’t pronounce.
Until, that is, our superhero of a presidential candidate breaks through the brick wall, booming and brimming with this “message.” This “message,” so invigorating, so inspiring, so trustworthy, with very little content behind it at all, has pushed our disillusioned generation to again believe that we have a shot at changing the world, like in the good old days.
Obama’s cool. He’s fresh. He’s somebody the boys want to go kick it with at the bar down the street. He’s the guy all the chicks think has that George Clooney “old guy” sex appeal.
Is it embarrassing when you call him out like that? Is it embarrassing to be the “sexy” candidate – the “young” candidate relying on your image and charm and not on the actual practice of bringing about this change? Sure, it’s not the most political thing ever. And sure, it sort of undermines our whole political realm, for the first time combining it with a mild Hollywood air. But luckily, it’s not a completely vapid crap shoot, not all the “kids” are out there tossing their bras at Obama – they have really stepped it up and shown their organization and skills like never before in an election.
Campuses all over the nation have thrown themselves into activism, creating rallies and informational sessions that kids aren’t just coming to for the free pizza. Interactive, social networking websites started by young Obama fans such as runobama.com, and the Facebook organizations that have reached an unparalleled growth are all inspiring college students and young adults to join in the movement. For the first time in our generation, we have a movement to be a part of!
Obama has made America’s young adults feel like he created the coolest fraternity in the country…and we’re all allowed to join (without any nasty hazing pranks).
Truthfully, the youth vote probably won’t be the deciding push to get Obama to the top. But Obama needs all the youth support and grassroots organization he can get – the prize is not in the actual votes of the youth, but the development to his charismatic brand. Eventually that hysterical excitement will push its way up into the age groups, maturing its way where it needs to, each age group bridging the way to the next. Obama needs to continue to campaign “young”, but organize “old,” with the ultimate objective being the older voters.
It’s all part of his master plan (or his brilliant PR director’s, I suppose).
The message and the details will come. But for once, a candidate has put his BRAND first.
And it’s working.