Political Marketing 101 (UPDATED X2)

Ladies and Gentlemen, RNC Chairman Michael Steele:

The RNC’s first black chairman will “surprise everyone” when updating the party’s image using the Internet and advertisements on radio, on television and in print, he told The Washington Times.

I wonder if Steele knows that that political advertising on the internet, radio and television isn’t a new concept. Is he really hoping that putting out a bunch of ads saying the Republican Party isn’t as bad as you think it is will surprise anyone, let alone everyone? I’d be more surprised if the Republican Party didn’t advertise.

“There was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort” zones, he said, citing defeats in such states as Virginia and North Carolina. “We need messengers to really capture that region – young, Hispanic, black, a cross section …

Look, people aren’t stupid–they can figure out if your party’s policies are good or bad for them. Finding minorities to read GOP talking points and/or run for political office won’t in and of itself win the Republican party minority voters, mostly because those voters know that the GOP’s policies are still bad for them.

And Steele should know that people vote on a lot more than just their race. I mean, he was defeated in his run for Senate despite being an African-American in a state with a sizable African-American population. You actually have to work to make people’s lives better in order to earn their support–having the same skin color or ethnic background doesn’t cut it, and it’s pretty insulting to assume that those are all minority voters look at.

We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

Asked if this venture will be cutting-edge, Steele replied, “I don’t do ‘cutting-edge.’ That’s what Democrats are doing. We’re going beyond cutting-edge.”

First off, “urban” and “suburban” are completely different culturally–you can’t lump them together with a hyphen. More to the point, people tend to have a host of political concerns that have very little to do with what kind of setting they live in.

Second, I can’t think of anything less hip-hop than the Republican Party. I think certified public accountants and and corporate tax attorneys are more hip-hop than the GOP.

More importantly, does anyone realize that the Republican Party has, essentially, a walking gimmick as their chairman? Talking about making your party more “urban-suburban” and “hip-hop” aren’t going to fix anything; they’re band-aids that only paper over the GOP’s real problem: terrible ideas that very few people support anymore.

The problem isn’t the GOP’s advertising, it’s what that advertising is trying to sell. You can have the slickest ads and most well-crafted image in the world, but your sales will still be terrible if your product is garbage. Personally, I wonder how much time the GOP is going to waste focusing on the superficial garbage before they realize that it’s their product itself that needs to change.

UPDATE: Eric Kleefeld hits the nail on the head:

This sort of sounds like a middle-aged man talking to his kids, trying to his utter best to sound as if he’s cool.

UPDATE II: Behold the hip-hop GOP:

Nah, I take that back; that video’s still cooler than the hip-GOP will ever be.

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