By Kayas Fayyaz, Consultancy and Client Services, Coast Digital

The recent American presidential election has proved a rich source of debate and not just in the realm of politics. The most expensive presidential campaign in history has confirmed digital marketing as a potent strategic tool.

Obama, in my opinion should be hailed as the brand of the 2008, as that is what he sold himself as — not a politician but a brand. While the old-fashioned connotations of a politician are personified 100% through John McCain i.e. a suit, old(ish), boring and speaks in jargon to confuse the masses. Obama on the other hand, was promoted as a product, similar to the Beckhams, J-Lo and Lewis Hamilton perhaps.

The Democrats key strategy was obvious — we have an African-American candidate — and it’s highly unlikely we’re going to get any of the die-hard Republicans to change their political stance, so why not go for the untapped market — the youth market. And they did this brilliantly.

Joining forces with Facebook, the democratic party made a fortune in public contributions. Key data was captured to allow outbound contact with signed-up members to gather contributions, and provide updates via SMS and email. This was highly cost-effective in comparison with traditional direct mail and below-the-line strategies.

And instant availability of information via iPhone applications, including Twitter, made the Democratic candidate immediately accessible to a technologically-savvy market. This interaction is what acted as an absolute driving force for Obama ’08, the brand.

Suddenly it wasn’t about two — without sounding ageist — ‘old’ men arguing about who should run the country. Instead this ‘brand’ interaction made the campaign seem new and radical. An enticing strategy, revealing that ‘hype’ can play a beautiful role in enhancing a particular product’s image overnight.

Essentially, I think that what the Democrats have done is create a blueprint for the future of political campaigning. The key points that shaped this are:

• Utilisation of all available budget by incorporating a digital strategy, which garnered phenomenal exposure at a global level

Provision of user-interactive resources; making the audience actively feel part of the process

• The candidate is the political party’s billboard, a brand; treat him/her as such and you’ll create a strong brand perception as opposed to a political ideology (let’s face it — who actually knows what the two candidates were really standing for?)

• Finally, never underestimate the power of digital marketing… this was McCain’s downfall, something he should have picked up on when Obama beat Clinton to the Democratic candidacy. is full service digital marketing agency. Totally focused on delivering measurable results and demonstrable ROI, they work across B2B and B2C brands to deliver innovative solutions.

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