I spend a lot of time figuring out ways for brands to get consumers to like them, so here's a bit of advice for the for the two brands running for the US presidency this year.
- Resurrect Massachusetts Mitt: A lot of Democrats might be convinced to vote for the socially liberal/fiscally innovative governor of Massachusetts. You might win them over if you can convince them that's who you still are.
- Teach Ann to smile. You lose those precious likability points every time CNN pans over to her and she looks like she's just smelled used kitty litter. Which happened a whole lot during the convention.
- Understand that people don't dislike you because you are rich: Mike Bloomberg is much, much, much richer than you and yet no one seems to begrudge him his wealth. Despite the fact that he's not a Democrat. Figure out why that is and do whatever he is doing. Hint: stop trying to pretend your father's position had nothing to do with your success. No one buys that for a minute. But George Romney's name could only open doors. You still had to deliver. Focus on that.
- Buy a crowbar and whack Paul Ryan across the nuts every time he says the word "Medicare." It's unimportant whether his plan is sound or not-- you lose votes every time he says it.
- Explain why being a businessman makes you a better president. Remember that FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton never ran businesses. You need to give concrete examples of what you would do to create jobs, loosen spending, etc. and why having run a business-- a business like Bain, no less, that does not actually create anything tangible-- will make you a better president.
- Understand the limits of rational decision making. You seem to see the world as a balance sheet, where there's a logical answer to most problems. But in doing so, you discount the importance of emotional decision making and the incredibly important role it plays in getting people to buy products and vote for candidates without ever fully understanding why they're doing so. Hint: You mention Steve Jobs in your speeches. Jobs understood the power of the ego over the id. Emulate him.
- Stop blaming the last four years on Congressional Republicans. You made a lot of mistakes too. Own up to them, tell people what you'd do differently. Carrying on as if we'd be in the middle of an economic boom if only the Tea Party didn't exist doesn't help your cause.
- Define Obama 2.0. 1.0 was all about stopping the slide towards another Great Depression and passing Obamacare. You even slipped killing Bin Laden in there. Those victories aside, the reviews on your first term have been universally mediocre. You need to give us something beyond Hope & Change and being Not Bush. You've had four years of on-the-job training. Explain how you've grown and what you've learned.
- Stop hiding Michelle. She's got the most relatable life story of any of the candidates or their wives: working class girl from Chicago public schools studies hard, gets into Princeton, becomes a successful attorney. All she's missing is a glass slipper. Understand that you, Mitt and Ann come off like characters from a TV show: not a lot of children-of-well-known governors out there and I think you get that the only person in the world with a background even remotely like yours is well, you. Did you watch that inspirational speech Marco Rubio gave at the Republican convention? Change a couple of minor details and Michelle's got the same story. Stop hiding her away and use her likablilty to your advantage.
- Pretend you actually like being President: All too often it seems like you're doing us all a big favor by taking the weight of the world on your shoulders. So kill the martyr act. One of the reasons Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were so popular is they both actually seemed like they were having a blast being president. I get it's not who you are, but at least try.
- Remember the guy who talked about having to figure out his mother's insurance bills. That was probably the moment you won the election. Because no matter what we thought the solution should be, nothing (a) crystallized the problems with the current health care system and (b) humanized you like that story about fighting with the insurance companies over erroneous bills and denials of payment while your mother was dying of cancer. Everyone could relate to that story. Find that guy again and become him.
- Buy the rights to the scene in Up In The Air where George Clooney and Anna Kendrick are brought in to fire people. The one where Jason Reitman used real people who'd actually been recently fired. Run it as often as possible the week before the election. The Bain connection will not be lost on anyone.
BOTH OF YOU:
7. Stop campaigning to 27 undecided voters in Ohio. Geting lost in the weeds like that just makes the rest of the country feel cynical and uninspired. You are both capable of bigger thinking. Go there.