Sunday, January 20, 2008

Which Presidential Candidate is better for "Brand America"?

First, my apologies to all regular readers for the shamefully long gap since my last posting. My only excuse is constant travel, and that I've been very busy organising some important new developments for my three surveys, the Nation Brands Index, City Brands Index and State Brands Index - more news on this front during the next few weeks.

In the meantime, a lot of my correspondence has been around the gripping US primaries, and the question of which candidates are likely to have the greatest impact on America's currently somewhat depressed international image.

So which candidate will be better for ‘Brand America’?

Nothing very scientific here, I'm afraid: but in my opinion it's Brand Barack, without a doubt. This this has relatively little to do with whether he and Senator Clinton are black or white, male or female, little to do with their politics, and quite a bit to do with how masculine or feminine each is. Barack Obama has – I hope he will excuse me saying so – some interestingly feminine qualities (he gives the impression of being caring, culturally sensitive, gentle and considerate), while Senator Clinton displays some strikingly masculine personality traits (despite the odd tear, she appears driven, forceful, aggressive). Since the woes of ‘Brand America’ are associated with an excess of political testosterone, you could well argue that what it needs more than anything else right now is a good dose of estrogen.

Challengers need masculine traits in order to succeed and to appeal; those in positions of great power will be better loved if they display a more feminine side, and as I argued in my book Brand America, most of the difficulties currently faced by the United States in terms of its international reputation can be ascribed to the fact that it has achieved so many of its goals, and has moved from challenger to dominator.

The lack of a global democracy is never plainer than when the U.S. presidential elections come around: the man or woman who gets the job has more influence over people's lives in other countries than many a local leader, and yet the rest of the world can only sit and hope, and trust to the American electorate - whose tastes, ambitions, politics, concerns and interests are usually somewhat different from those of overseas populations - to make the right choice on their behalf.

If ever there was a need for effective public diplomacy, it would be a huge, collaborative effort on the part of certain European, Asian and African governments to attempt to influence the voting behaviour of American citizens.

Dream on, as they say in America!