Brown – Warren Massachusetts Senate race: marketing virus causes political brand self-destruction

Noam Chomsky said, “The elections are run by the same guys who sell toothpaste.” Chomsky has gone a step too far here. Conventional marketing and political campaigns run along parallel, not identical, lines. Both do need branding strategy (the conceptual DNA that generates expectation and perception), but there’s a difference in implementation. For marketers, the branding plan generally is treated as confidential and can be fine-tuned or replaced, as need be. For the most part, the brand blueprint is put into effect through paid efforts. With campaigners, the candidate’s official biography in large measure serves as the strategic outline. Clearly, very little modification is possible. A political production can assume that a well-crafted bio will be propagated without charge by media and supporters.

With the Massachusetts Senate race, Scott Brown injected the Cosmo spread into his biography by justifying the photos on the basis of the need to pay for tuition. This explanation turned Elizabeth Warren’s comments into a marketing virus. The effect has been to hijack Brown’s mythic schema life story and to turn it against him, ruining the political brand. Voters now won’t think of Brown’s problematical upbringing as forging character strength. Instead, Brown himself has led the public to believe that his past has brought about character defects.

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Anthony Olszewski

Anthony Olszewski has written on a wide variety of topics: cage birds, tropical fish, popular culture, the poetry of Amiri Baraka and a chapter on genetics for a veterinary text book, as a small sample. He worked as an editor at a magazine produced by TFH, the world's largest publisher of pet books. Anthony Olszewski is the author of a booklet on Hudson County history, Hudson County Facts, and a book of short stories, Second Thief, Best Thief, that are sold on Amazon. Anthony Olszewski established in 1996. A pioneer on the Web, the Site continues to provide unique information on a range of companion animals, focusing on birds and fish. As a community service, he operates Jersey City Free Books. Anthony Olszewski was born in Jersey City, NJ (Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital, 1956) and is a member of Mensa. Email at

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