January 9, 2008

How Hillary Clinton regained authenticity

A huge fraction of what I do as a marketing consultant is advise on how to be credible. In consumer marketing – including politics – analysis often focuses on the closely related factor of authenticity instead. Hillary Clinton’s stunning New Hampshire win is in large part being attributed to a sudden recapture of authenticity.

I agree with that top-level analysis. Specifically, I think there were four main factors driving the sudden change in Clinton’s image. First, she started running and presenting herself as a woman. Second, she stopped overdoing it when co-opting Obama’s message of “change,” and scaled back to a level that was credible. Third, she told a very John-Edwards-like “It’s personal to me” story about why she’s campaigning, and didn’t take it to a false-sounding extreme. Fourth, she banished the Bill-Clinton-era human stage props, starting with the ex-President himself. It now seems evident that the presence of Bill Clinton and his advisors had been seen as evidence of her being both an old-school candidate and, even worse, her husband’s puppet.

Most interestingly, I’m not sure that political analysts have yet grasped how completely Clinton can play – and for now is playing — the female role. It’s not just the explicit mentions of the point, plus a few tears. It’s also the choice to show up for her big speech in idiosyncratic yet tasteful clothing, rather than yet another boring costume of suit-and-pearls. It’s the very feminine waves from the podium to individuals in the audience. Hillary Clinton’s staffers have said that she is warm and maternal to them in private. If she can tap into that streak in her public persona as well, I expect that she will indeed be the next President of the United States.


Leave a Reply

Feed including blog about strategic marketing and messaging in technology and politics Subscribe to the Monash Research feed via RSS or email:


Search our blogs and white papers

Monash Research blogs

User consulting

Building a short list? Refining your strategic plan? We can help.

Vendor advisory

We tell vendors what's happening -- and, more important, what they should do about it.

Monash Research highlights

Learn about white papers, webcasts, and blog highlights, by RSS or email.