Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lessons from Obama

There’s a lot that marketers in Asia can take from Barack Obama’s ground-breaking use of digital in his meteoric rise to the US presidency. And one of the most telling insights for marketers, according to Fleishman-Hillard’s global digital guru David Wickenden, is that they simply can’t ignore online as a medium and as a powerful marketing tool anymore.

I caught up with David yesterday in Singapore.

Obama not only invested a lot in his online strategy, in staff, hardware and software, but his people fully believed in the power of digital. There was constant engagement from the Obama team with the public, a complete understanding of what users wanted and how to help them get involved, a leveraging of all the channels they used (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, mobile, MyBarackObama.com etc etc) as well as total commitment to the digital campaign from the Obama camp. This was no half-assed, toe-in-the-water strategy.

Wickenden said we have “left the world where you can shovel out a marketing message”. Marketers must now add value to consumers, give them content and entertain them.

He said marketing has become a service, and if brands have a “lame product or a lame message, you can use all the social media you like but it won’t work”.

Wickenden also said marketers can’t avoid digital anymore as that’s where today’s audiences are, and he cited Dell’s dellhell.net initiative and General Motors gmnext.com portal (a portal which focus on the future of the car) as two examples of recent innovative digital marketing.

Wickenden is managing director and senior partner for Fleishman-Hillard’s Digital Intergation Group, which worked on the Obama campaign, and he has more than 20 years experience in designing and managing large-scale integrated communications campaigns, working on digital strategies for the likes of AT&T, the US State Department and Visa.

Do you agree that its essential that marketers in Asia must saddle up for the digital express?

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