The past decade of global politics have been characterized by conflict, mistrust and grown incidents of all manner of racial profiling, especially in the aftermath of the September 11th,2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre Towers in New York City, USA. Traveling through domestic and international airports became a nightmare for many people of non-Caucasian hues, especially Muslim looking types. Hatred for America and Americans grew in many parts of the world. Then emerged Barack Obama; a relatively unknown American Senator immediately from Illinois but, significantly, from Hawaii with more recent African-American origins. His story is unlike those of many African-Americans whose lineage dates back from the times of slavery. The racial and ethnic composition of Obama’s immediate and extended family would make it hard for anyone to convincingly pin him down to one racial allegiance, if such existed. This is also the mystery that makes Brand Obama so fascinating in a world that is obsessive with issues of racial identity
The Obama Brand
The growth of the Obama Brand has been – for a political brand (especially in America) – phenomenally fast tracked. This is perhaps because the world was in dire need of another icon to believe in. The aging Nelson Mandela has almost disappeared from the world stage and Bill Clinton has done his time. It can be argued that Obama’s good looks, intelligence and obvious charisma also make it for him. Coupled with that is his picture perfect immediate family (wife and two daughters). Here is a worldly American politician who seems like an ideal family man capable of balancing family responsibilities with attention to problems of the world – for America’s problems almost always end up becoming world problems; when she sneezes, so do we all!
The recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama has been met with mixed reactions in and outside America. While some agree that the prize is well deserved, citing Obama’s many statements of openness on various world stages, his multilateral approach to tackling world issues (he has already paid all of America’s dues to the United Nations), others feel that the award came too early, as his pronouncements still need to be followed-up by action. There is no doubt that for a political brand that will always be affected by matters of real politik, the Obama brand still has many tests to pass.
Relevant to this review, however, is the impressive way in which the media infrastructure built around Brand Obama has done its work since he assumed power. All relevant audiences continue to be targeted through various media platforms and suitably customized messages at appropriate intervals. And each media appearance is stage managed for maximum impact. All successful brands are always managed with care, so is Brand Obama!