An interesting video by the Film Theorists has been posted on YouTube comparing reality TV strategies to this year’s political campaign. While the video is lighthearted, the analogy is reasonable. Ever since the invention of television, American presidential elections have been reality TV, even before that phrase was coined.
Love them or hate them, both Trump and Sanders (not covered in the video) have had the simplest messages and clearly defined personas. While not sufficient for victory in themselves, these characteristics are essential for attracting support and that is why these two have done far better than the pundits predicted.
When I was growing up, alarmists were talking about the coming global ice age. Obviously that never came to pass and the experience has left me skeptical about dramatic claims. Over the last two decades, some people have been claiming global warming is imminent and that Antarctica will melt away. I’ve paid attention to their claims and look for articles that provide evidence that either supports or refutes their theories. A recent example inadvertently epitomizes the risks of publicity.
Some climate change researchers were so convinced their global warming theories were correct, they chartered a ship to measure the predicted melting ice in Antarctica. Not only did they find evidence that ice was increasing – the opposite result forecast by their theories – but their ship got stuck in the ice. From a marketing perspective, that is the worse possible outcome for their cause. Not only did it provide visible evidence against their theories, but it made them international laughingstocks.
This is a great example of why publicity is risky. You cannot always control the outcome and you certainly cannot control what others will write. Good marketers will consider both what could go right and what could go wrong before engaging in risky behavior.