Election 2012

We were losers, folks

We were losers, folks

It took me until early Friday morning, after reading an Opinion piece in the New York Times, to find the strength and passion to write this column.

The final insult to be thrown in the face of all of us in the Republican Party after the debacle that was the “campaign” for the White House. More than one week from the reality that we got our collective butts kicked yet again by a president whose record was as abysmal as any record could be. We get destroyed by a candidate that no one of any sanity would have given a chance of winning nearly 12 months ago. A candidate who said early in his first administration that if he didn’t create jobs that he would be a one-term president.

You should know I find no comfort in the fact that for the last eight months, I have been writing columns for HumanEvents.com encouraging, chiding, criticizing and lamenting the sorry state of the marketing team and effort being waged on behalf of the Republican Party and the Romney campaign.

Week after week, column after column outlined the failings of a campaign that was misguided from the start. Please don’t respond to this writing with the fact that nearly 50 million people voted for Romney. We LOST. We are LOSERS.

Unless we stop complaining and dissect what has happened during this election and the election preceding it, we will continue to LOSE. Unless we replace the coaching staff, the leadership that has been guiding two unsuccessful attempts to win the White House, we will continue to LOSE. The “strategy” didn’t work. It was NEVER going to work. It is a strategy that worked in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, but for this era, it has been proven not to work now for the second time.

We are charting a course for the future with a bunch of captains that has no clue as to how to market products, services, messages in the real world of 2012 and beyond. If I were a CEO of a product company and had the team running my marketing campaign that has run the Romney campaign and spent over $1 billion dollars of “my company’s money” and got our ass kicked the way we did on Election Day, everyone would be fired…immediately.

As a party and a “marketing machine” we spend a lot of time in a state of denial about the changing demography of the electorate in our country today. Our party leaders are out of step with the basic fundamental components of how to market products and services  in the new world.

Barack Obama and his team in Chicago did it to us again. After the first time, he wrote the book “Communicator in Chief,” which outlined his plan to leverage the Internet and social media to extend his reach to the various segments of the new electorate. No one on our side of the campaign read the book. No one took him seriously. We continued to talk ourselves into believing that appearing on Fox News and spending billions of dollars on television advertising was the way to win the election.

What are they – STUPID?

Quietly the folks out in Chicago were laughing to themselves. They must have said to themselves: “Those Republican fools with their old thinking and old ideas and methods on how to market to the new base of voters are doing it again. What are they — STUPID?”  The answer is YES, we are that stupid to believe that we can continue to do things in the old way — direct mail, television, newspapers, robo-calling — and win the hearts and minds of the voters that determine elections.

We are LOSERS folks. That thinking and method went away a long time ago in the marketing world. Do you really think that the major networks (who are laughing all the way to the bank) are really interested in dissuading marketers like presidential campaigns from running costly TV ads on their networks? Not EVER. The real winners after this election are the balance sheets of every network and cable station in the country. We fools funded their 2012 P&Ls.

After spending billions of dollars and asking every household in the country to donate to the campaign, I was steadfast in my resistance to contribute to my party. My reasoning was consistent at the beginning and is today. I would not spend a dime of my money funding the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight” marketing team that was managing the Republican campaign  and the Romney effort.

Report after report showed that we were messaging and spending incorrectly and doing damage to our brand. We missed every opportunity to reach out to women and young voters in the venues that they find most engaging — the Internet and social media. We did nothing to leverage the web effectively to create a real dialogue between our candidate and the socially aware and digitally connected voter.

Everything was NOT “covered”

“Smart” people in the campaign told me through channels that “they had everything covered.”  These folks were strident and arrogant and refused to listen to anyone that had anything to say that was counter to the Karl Rove ($300 million) view of the world. Hey Karl, how did is all that white boarding working for you now? We were obsessed with talking to ourselves and making the already-converted believe that we had it all under control and that there was no way that we could lose.

We spent no time studying the data the way that the Democrats did and building an effort in new media to engage with the segments of the voting public that were the undecided and unconverted. We believed in polls that said the race was tightening, at a time when routinely we were getting our ass kicked online.

After the second losing campaign, leveraging the same losing strategy in terms of media and marketing, it is time for the coaches and administration to be fired. Everyone needs to go. Everyone who continues to espouse old thinking and old strategy goes.

Until there is a cleaning of house and a new brand of thinking regarding marketing and communications, we will continue to be LOSERS.  If anyone out there is thinking about sending another donation to the Republican Party and/or another candidate running for election in the mid terms in two years without evidence of substantial change in our communications strategy, I have a bridge here in NYC that I need to sell you. The only way that we can change things within our party is boycott funding any further waste in party spending. Billions of dollars have been thrown away in primaries and now the national election. They didn’t need to have been trash canned. A bunch of incompetent and ignorant leaders allowed all of that money to be thrown away. If they don’t go, none of us should fund another dollar.

No excuses

A note to Mitt, John McCain and the rest of the mainstream Republican leaders: don’t diminish yourselves and the party by complaining and making excuses on why Obama beat us again. Don’t make speeches about the promises that he made and then broke, about a potential cover-up in Benghazi and the “scandals” in his administration. There is no excuse for having lost this election. None. Unless everyone in the Republican Party looks in the mirror and is honest about what they see, nothing will change. We must recognize that we lost because we didn’t work hard enough and smart enough to win.

We were OLD in our thinking, OLD in our strategy, OLD in our marketing execution. No one wins with that type of effort in any product based marketing battle.

From what I hear in all of the marketing trades, the Chicago team managing marketing communications for the president might be publishing a sequel to the Communicator in Chief book. It will be required reading for anyone serious about plotting an effective and winning presidential marketing strategy in the years ahead.

Since Paul Ryan has nearly 5 million Facebook friends right now, I am going to send him a copy of the first book. My sense is that he might be the real hope and change for this country, four years from now, but only if we create change now, remove old leaders now and start planning…NOW.

Al DiGuido has long been recognized as an innovator in the digital marketing industry and as a pioneer in email communications. He has held leadership positions at Zeta Interactive, Epsilon Interactive, Bigfoot Interactive and Ziff Davis Publishing. He can be reached at aldiguido@aldiguido.com.

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