Like many other marketers, I think candidate Obama’s marketing was exemplary. Which is why I was surprised at President-Elect Obama’s choice of bible for his swearing in.
I get the significance of Obama using the Lincoln Bible. I see the connection between the man who freed the slaves and the first black president. I understand that President Obama is inspired by Lincoln, that he’s a big fan, that he’s been reading up on Lincoln and even that his cabinet and administration is, like Lincoln’s, a team of rivals.
I just think there were better choices out there.
Sure, he got plenty of press coverage about his choice. But wouldn’t he have gotten just as much press if he’d used a bible owned by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Wouldn’t it also have been significant and symbolic?
But more importantly, now there will be no Obama Bible.
The Lincoln bible will always be the Lincoln Bible, no matter who uses it. But if Obama had used a bible of Dr. King’s, there would forever be an Obama Bible.
Doesn’t the first black president of the United States deserve a bible of his own?
For the record, most presidents do not use other president’s bibles. Eisenhower used Washington’s, as did the first Bush. The second Bush wanted to, but inclement weather (or the hand of God?) intervened. Here’s an interesting list of presidential bibles compiled by the Architect of the Capital, who is “responsible to the Congress for preserving, maintaining and enhancing our national treasures.”
In marketing and advertising, we call what President Obama did “borrowed interest.” Instead of capitalizing on his own unique brand attributes, Obama cashed in on Lincoln’s.
Wouldn’t using Dr. King’s bible also be borrowed interest? Sure, for today.
But for tomorrow, for all the tomorrows to come, that bible would be the Obama Bible. When some future president-elect wanted to use that bible, they would refer to it as the Obama bible, used to swear in the first black president, which was originally owned by Dr. Martin Luther King, the greatest civil rights leader in American history.
That’s good branding…and good marketing.
Which is why I’m so perplexed. Everything about this campaign’s marketing has been so intentional, so purposeful, so savvy, that there must be a reason I’m missing.
So can someone (preferably named Barak) please explain to me why President Obama chose to borrow interest from someone else’s brand as opposed to firmly establishing his own?