Owen, Sophie and the Summit Story

Owen, Sophie and the Summit Story

Politics | Judette Coward-Puglisi

March 20, 2009





Thanks to Barack Obama the way politicians will use the Web has been changed forever. 


No one said that better than Ranjit Mathoda in a New York Times piece by David Carr. According to Mathoda, Barack Obama understood that "you could use the web to lower the cost of building a political brand, create a sense of connection and engagement, and dispense with the command and control method of governing …" 


Mathoda’s perspective is important because it positions the politician as a marketer; someone who can supply brand, ground troops, money and relationships as well as   cultivate emotions and allegiance. 


This all struck me as I was listening to the 5th Summit of the Americas ads on the radio today.


They are wonderfully arranged, a lot of great concepts are bandied about in 30 seconds but ask Owen or Sophie on the street  and they’ll tell you they  are more concerned about how they will get to the corner store  than whether they  could derive meaningful benefits from a  the 2- day meeting.


 It not that Owen and Sophie don’t care. But thus far the messages  of the Summit have been entangled in a web  about the helpful but mundane aspects of the global meeting. In the newspapers alone this week the public viewed  brand new vehicles that would be used to transport the  leaders of the Americas,they were told about the zones that would restrict their  movement and they read how Prime Minister Manning is doing his share of rallying around Latin America in preparation for the meeting.   


See what I mean. Important but dull.  These stories  are the worse kind of political marketing  simply because  it fails to  fire the  imagination of Owen and Sophie and countless others on the street. 


Soliciting buy-in from the public is always strategic but  it requires a long view of things. It  says here is our plan and here’s how you can benefit. Here’s what we can gain together and here’s how you can help.   Up next? Tell  that stroy  over and over again in multifaceted, multidimesional ways using channels that  are relevant and remarkable. 


A diligent marketer, oops politician, can make it easy for the troops  to fan the flames and get the word out as well. And to do it in an authentic, honest way that connects.



The 5th Summit of the Americas is a chance to build on the political brand and capitalise on the Obama magic. I hope it does not turn out to be  an opportunity missed.



One thought on “Owen, Sophie and the Summit Story

  1. Overall though – I can’t wait to see what comes out of this summit for us and I don’t necessarily mean the financial and other type rewards etc that the govt can’t stop speaking about. I’m talking about what we as a PEOPLE are going to walk away with, from an experience like this…

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