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Marketing Partnerships

Is Obama Going to the Dogs?

Even though this post is going to be about Barack Obama and an election, there’s nothing political about it. I just heard about an interesting marketing partnership. Barack Obama and the American Kennel Club (AKC) are asking people to vote on who the “First Dog” should be should Senator Obama become president. There’s a website with the vanity url www.presidentialpup.com where you can vote for one of 5 dogs chosen to match the special requirements of the presidential life, such as “Must be able travel on Air Force One.” Also, Senator Obama’s two children are allergic, so the dogs must be hypoallergenic.

When I first heard of this, I thought it was pandering, that Obama was getting a dog just to win the critically important canine vote.

Then I went to the site. I saw that the site was apolitical, and balanced. The site also points out that Senator McCain and his wife have 24 pets including 4 dogs, but that this will be the Obama’s first dog.

According to the AKC, Senator Obama promised his daughters that after the election they could get a dog, win or lose. The site has links to the 5 dogs up for “election” as well as two breeds of McCain dogs, but being the AKC, they conveniently leave out a profile of his mixed breed canine Coco!

I saw the way the AKC is using the opportunity for education, pointing out that after the decision to get a dog, the next most important decision is the type of dog you get. Breed characteristics are critically important. (As my wife and I ponder a dog for our own family, we’ve been learning about the pros and cons of different breeds. For instance, as much as we love Bernese Mountain Dogs, they’re not the right dog for an urban apartment!)

By the time I was done checking out the site, I realized I loved this marketing partnership. Obama gets publicity, and his daughters get a dog. The AKC creates a buzzworthy opportunity to educate, inform and build brand awareness.

But there is one aspect of the promotion that bothers me. There are 5 breeds of dog in the running for First Pup: Bichon Frise, Chinese Crested, Miniature Schnauzer, Poodle and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. Now, it doesn’t bother me that there’s not an American breed to be found in this bunch of foreigners. And I’m not going to dwell on the fact that I can’t stand any of the candidates except the Wheaten.

No, my question concerns Obama’s two daughters and the oftentimes questionable taste of the electorate.

Can someone please explain to me how the Obama girls are going to feel if the public elects a dog they can’t stand?

By jlsimons

I'm a matchmaker and a storyteller, and while most people look at their business from within a silo I look at it from 20,000 feet up and see connections - or things that should be connected - that others miss. These days, I've focused on Social Media, and I get to work with people like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Josef Katz. In the past, I've put Spider-Man in a cereal box and the X-Men in a can of Pasta. In over a decade at Tanen Directed Advertising, I helped MasterCard do their first mailing in Taiwan and Citigroup grab a bigger share of the world than they had before. At Q.E.D. Games, we created critically acclaimed historical card games and revolutionized roleplaying games by getting rid of the dice. At Marvel, I created advergames before they were called that. I upset applecarts, color outside the lines and believe that rulebooks are for the people who come in second. My current goal is to find 3 more hours in the day and be first in line for a jack into the back of my brain. Oh, and to find a publisher for my teen cyberpunk science fiction novel, Spirit in Realtime.

Specialties: Promotional partnerships, integrated marketing, social media, strategic marketing, alternate channels, direct response, corporate marketing, copywriting, advergaming, game design and development, financial advertising

3 replies on “Is Obama Going to the Dogs?”

I think that Barack and Michelle should take their daughters to the pound and adopt a puppy. I did that with my daughter this year and it was a good feeling to “save a life”.

Hi Phyllis. I agree with you. My wife and I have always had shelter cats. The look in their eyes when you take them home is simply amazing. And there was certainly plenty of opportunity for a cause-related marketing partnership with shelters. They tend to be underfunded non-profits. Obama probably could have arranged something with some of the bigger ones like the ASPCA or the American Humane Association or the Humane Society of America. He would have gotten good press, maybe even better press, and still could have ended up with non-allergenic breeds. Then again, I don’t know what the AKC brought to the table in terms of awareness and traffic on their site. I’d love to hear from the Obama campaign or the AKC and find out. Thanks for your comment.

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