Obama's campaing website (left), Netanyahu's (right)
Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Barack Obama at the White House to discuss Mideast peace talks, Iran's nuclear program and the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Since being elected, this was the first time the two had met, however judging from their previous websites, their campaign advisors had been eying each others work for quite sometime.
“Imitation is the greatest form of flattery,” noted Ron Dermer, one of Mr. Netanyahu’s top campaign advisers. “We’re all in the same business, so we took a close look at a guy who has been the most successful and tried to learn from him. And while we will not use the word ‘change’ in the same way in our campaign, we believe Netanyahu is the real candidate of change for Israel.”
As stated by Mr. Dermer, this was a direct and intentional copy, a way of towing on a successful campaign, and for Netanyahu, it worked. But the more the world has become enamored with the success story of the Obama campaign, the more politicians are intentionally lifting pieces for their own campaigns (or at least creating questionaby similar content).
Of course, during the U.S. elections there were accusations of John McCain and Hillary Clinton appropriating Obama's look and verbiage in effort to attract votes. But take for instance Walter Veltroni’s slogan, “Yes we can,” used in the 2008 Italian prime ministerial election, or the recent unveiling of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejads re-election slogan,“We Can.“
In the UK you find dueling Obamas. The Tory leader, David Cameron, adopting the mottos "plan for change, sign for change, and vote for change" and Gordon Brown calling on Labour to copy Obama's “people-powered” campaign.
Last year when the South African Democratic Alliance re-launched itself as a "party of government“, many said their new signature “beared a striking resembalance to Barack Obama's election campaign logo“, though the Democratic Alliance insists there was no conscious copying.
In the corporate world, the new Pepsi logo (The Arnell Group) has been accused of being an Obama knock-off as well as their hope ad campaign (TBWA\CHIAT\DAY). Just do a web search for “Obama Marketing.“ You'll find page after page outlining what the campaign did right, and how you and your business should learn and profit from imitation.
This begs the question of how long this phenomenon will last and how long will people be comparing every marketing or political effort to Obama's presidential run.
In my view, Obama's win was primarily rooted in his actions, the content of his speeches and debates, and his stated desires for the U.S. and the world. Don't get me wrong, his identity design and slogans helped immensely, especially his strategy of raising funds and organizing supporters.
Let's just remember It's hard to sell a bad product no matter how good the package looks. Simply copying the Obama vanier isn't a sound strategy. After all, one of the Obama campaign's biggest advantages was that, at the time, he was quite different, tonally and viscerally. Let that be the lesson.