Was Last Night’s Debate a Marketing Stunt?


So what did you think? The Vice Presidential debate took place last night and social media exploded. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on (ok, it does matter, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been before and the division between the views put forth by the parties is greater than it has ever been before, so it does, in fact matter what side you’re on), you most likely reacted to last night’s debate.

Pick a channel and pick a poll, it’s like a carnival game, to claim your winning side, that’s not the point. The point is, people reacted, vicerally, to the debate, the candidates, the reactions and the messages.

As marketers we saw the sides both get the holy grail of a hit. They each spoke to their base, they each got their message across to their target audiences, and they each stated who they are as people and what their views for the country were. In each answer undecided voters found their own views, ones they could identify with.

So taken that way, each candidate did what he needed to do to get the message out. And then the ringer question in the form of a regular question everyone in the rest of the world gets when interviewing for jobs, what makes you better for this job than anyone else.

This required them to pull those egos they had carefully put in check, under lock and shackle to avoid it sneaking out at the wrong time, and allow just a little bit of it out. What makes them better? What part of their egos, their experience, their background, their persona makes them better for this job?

This question in interviews is one that is a delicate dance, and here in this setting you could see it was as well. Each man was required to make himself human, give the elevator pitch for the job, and tell a story that viewers can relate to and feel confident in.

Seth Godin recently posted a blog entitled Useful and believable promises in which he says customers we align with those who promise us something of greater value and that the one making the promise is most likely to keep it.

This is exactly what made that question important in the debate. Who made the bigger better promise, and who is more likely to keep it?

As marketers, we tell our clients that content, message, audience targeting matter, but we also tell them authenticity matters.

It does.