High-involvement products command our attention, and powerful high-involvement brands typically do incorporate product attributes, and extend from rational to emotional consideration. This is certainly true for the three example brands that Patrick provides in his post: BMW, Apple and Nike.
But Obama has already given us hints of what's under the hood -- remember that picture of him in a swimsuit? Meeeow! Kidding. I mean, the policies he's put forward, the kind of campaign he's run, and the career he's had up to now. Not that the branding analogy is off. When we write the book on this campaign, the Obama campaign will be recognized as the first campaign to truly embrace the tools of modern advertising: not just the viral video (though I think they may be the first one to benefit from viral video released for that purpose) or the focus group, but the sans serif font and other aesthetic cues (from ringer tees to the confident exclusion of the brand's actual name) that mark high-end, "hip" products.
And I love high-end, hip products as much as the next person. Or, rather, as much as the next person who loves high-end hip products. The problem that pundits saddle Obama with is that voters with less, er, "sophisticated" tastes will reject him for the more downmarket candidate (the squat but reliable Chevy, say).
But here's where the metaphor breaks down: Voting doesn't cost anything. Not everyone can afford a BMW, but anyone can buy an "Obama." (Insert Rezko joke here.) Obama may be conducting a campaign that resembles high-end brands, and, yes, only a certain subset of the population actually owns such high-end brands, but doesn't a pretty large proportion of the population want a BMW? If it weren't for such aspirations, Canal Street vendors would go broke. All Obama needs to do is show -- again and again and again -- that he's the real thing and not some plastic import whose zipper will break the first time you yank it hard at, say, three o'clock in the morning.
What's most pernicious about this metaphor, by the way, is that the Obama team seems to be buying into it as well. On the "Reliable Sources" where I lopped a few points of my IQ this morning, Jake's other good point was that Samantha Power might have done more damage to the Obama campaign not by calling Clinton a "monster" but by betraying an elitism normally associated with iPhone owners:
But if you are poor and she is telling you some story about how Obama is going to take your job away, maybe it will be more effective. The amount of deceit she has put forward is really unattractive.
Which sounds dangerously like, "poor people vote for Clinton because they're easily manipulated." Which, if true, means that the Obama people just aren't as good at it.
Back to the "Law and Order" marathon.