Politicians, Here’s How To Win

The Market

I was visiting a friend in Auckland the other day, and we decided (along with my sister, who is currently visiting me here in New Zealand) to head out of the city to a small town to the East called Thames.

Thames is not the kind of place you go to hit a club, but it is the kind of place you go to buy fresh bread. And fudge. And check out a ukulele festival (all things that we did).

It’s also, apparently, the home of a fairly well-known Kiwi politician, Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons was big in the news for a while as the co-leader of the NZ Green Party. She quit as a professional politician after her co-leader died not long ago, however, and now she’s not exactly in the public eye.

She is, however, still involved with what she believes. When my entourage and I came across her, she was at the Thames farmer’s market, selling fruit and roasted chestnuts. Both were delicious.

The point is, though, that she was selling these tidbits to raise money for her passion. At her table she had a petition related to a big Green Party-related cause. She was talking to people and sharing her ideas, but without the pomp and circumstance that’s usually associated with politics.

Whether or not you agree with a politician’s ideas, you can’t help but respect someone who believes so strongly in what they represent that they continue to bang their drum even when the prestige, money, and glory are out of the picture.

The Chestnut Strategy

I have no desire to go into politics, but if I ever did I would use a completely novel marketing strategy from what they’re all doing these days.

You know the millions and millions of dollars that politicians spend on advertising? I would take that money and spend it on causes related to my message.

I’d sponsor scientific endeavors and give money to Planned Parenthood and start a local Kiva fund and give merit-based scholarships to innovative children.

The only press I would get would be related to the good things I’d do with that campaign money. Newspapers, blogs, TV stations, they all love to talk about something new and heartwarming. I would give them story after story after story. They wouldn’t be able to get rid of me. It would be awesome.

And really, that’s the kind of press that matters most today, anyway. Who actually listens to campaign commercials? Is anyone convinced by political signs in their neighbor’s yard?

Unfortunately, politicians aren’t encouraged to act, only talk about what they would do.

I would be much more likely to trust someone who sells roasted chestnuts at a farmers market in the backroads of nowhere to support their cause than someone who spends millions of dollars to reassure me that they share my values.

If they would do more than show up for press photos, they wouldn’t have to spend so much time, money and effort branding themselves…their brand would be self-evident.

Who’s to say if this model would really work, or if anyone would actually do it, but you can be damn sure that anyone who did use it would receive more than their fair share of press attention, and regardless of their platform, they’d certainly get a kind word from me.

So…who’s feeling brave?

Update: December 16, 2016

Weird. This is very different from what Trump did to win the 2016 Presidential election in terms of content, but the concept of eschewing traditional advertising in favor of keeping the press reporting on you constantly? It hits eerily close to home.

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