Bernie Sanders is giving Hillary Clinton a hard time in the primaries. Who would have thought it? The less than expected success of Clinton in the presidential race so far is a mystery and raises a lot of questions. Let’s break down why she is in her current position.
1) Clinton Fatigue
Sometimes ubiquity hurts. Clinton was First Lady for eight years. She received more media exposure than any previous First Lady due to the Lewinsky affair. She won hearts because of her dignified posture during these turbulent developments.
She was a proactive Senator and then served as Secretary of State in Obama’s cabinet for four years. She is above all a woman and it is a testament to the subconscious misogyny in people’s that we tire of a woman if she remains in the limelight for too long. No such problems with Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or Donald Trump! Gender issues notwithstanding, ubiquity has a cost. People stop noticing your brand. As a consumer I forget the names and details of an ad campaign if I see it all the time. For example, I have a hard time differentiating between the various lawn brands. This is something advertisers need to understand; something that may be etched in one’s mind can, paradoxically, be easily dismissed to make way for more urgent thinking.
2. Being too competent
Rarely has there been a candidate more qualified to be president than Clinton. She has demonstrated the political, emotional and physical resilience required for the job - and this may precisely be the reason people are finding her difficult to relate to. Obama was a maverick. He came, he saw and he conquered. Even Trump seems to be doing well because of his laughable credentials.
Clinton is seen as part of the establishment and perhaps, because of her sheer competence the perception is that she may not bring anything exciting to the table. Being relatable matters for a brand. Ariel ran a successful campaign by having housewives extol its virtues, rather than using movie stars to do it. They didn’t throw numbers or ‘dirt areas’, or science in our faces; the message was about how Ariel can help an everyman or woman do his or her washing that much more easily. Sadly, this trend has been forgotten and now we are either given science lectures or exposed to an evergreen bunch of women having their stained white tablecloth washed by Faisal Qureshi/Mohib Mirza/Amir Liaquat/Waseem Akram. Consumers will not be convinced; you have to get past our heads and win our hearts. This is how Trump appears to be winning, and why Hillary cannot cross a likeability barrier despite her credentials.
3. Mistakes haunt front runners the most
In a previous blog I touched upon the subject of Trump as an established manipulator of the truth. So why does the issue of the emails or the Benghazi affair haunt Clinton again and again? Simply because she is the frontrunner.
People already see her as a potential president and those past mistakes create a degree of uncertainty regarding her eligibility. Her opponents are below that radar of scrutiny because they present themselves as outsiders or revolutionaries – and above all, men – and people are willing to forgive a lot.
This is why the Toyotas, Volkswagens, Apples and Googles of the world suffer the most when a car’s breaking system fails or an email service goes down. Their competitors have never been big enough to be considered as failure-proof – they are and therefore they pay dearly for this. That is why Mars Inc. recalled their entire batch of bars due to discovery of a tiny piece of plastic. They did the costly recall and rode a wave of favourable publicity thereby turning the crisis into an opportunity, something which Volkswagen, with its Diesel-gate scandal and BP with its oil spill, failed to do.
4. Everyone else in an underdog
It is human nature to root for the underdog. Trump has marketed himself as one and his Republican adversaries are lagging behind. In the democratic camp, Clinton stands as a confident, experienced frontrunner, while Sanders plays his socialist and faith cards (no one from the Jewish faith has ever been elected president) to establish himself as the underdog.
Locally, we can see Vital Tea establishing itself as an underdog to the big players, and the same message was echoed in their ad campaigns where the tea was painted as a counter force to the ills of our society.
Despite all this, Clinton seems poised to secure the nomination. The big question is whether she will be able to drum up enough public goodwill to beat Trump, who aims for the heart rather than the head, thus removing her considerable rational advantage.