As a kid growing up in Alaska, we’d play this game, “name that ad” (when we weren’t shooting each other with BB guns or sword fighting with willow branches), that challenged our young minds to name the product after we heard the jingle. I remember the joy I had when I proudly stated, “Alka Seltzer” after my friend James sang (off key of course) “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”
Without really understanding what I was being conditioned to do, I now realize marketing companies were brilliant. I can name jingles like my life counted on it. I can recite the “Big Mac” jingle and I don’t even eat at McDonald’s. But they were conditioning my mind to believe in a product or want a product because of the soundbite — who cares if it actually worked or was good for me.
And what works so well for those who sell products is now working well for those who run for public office. Slogans and soundbites work. Companies have proven this to be the case and so there should be no shock that those who choose to serve would incorporate this into their bid for public office — It is why we remember the person — “what’s his/her sound bite and is he/she likable?”
Think about it. President George H.W. Bush had “no new taxes,” Clinton was likable (and I think actually ate McDonald’s so was relatable), President Obama was youthful and ran on “Hope and Change,” Trump ran on “Make America Great Again.”
Slogans and soundbites inspire the masses and embed in the minds of the consumer, aka voter.
As we gear up for both local and national elections, I plan to look beyond the slogans and soundbites. I expect and actually do hope for soundbites so I can remember what each candidate is staking their campaign on, but I’ll be looking for substance…and reading up on the candidate’s track record. It’s one thing to hear the soundbite and another to dive into the details. Government finally made pharma give us some of the “details” of their products, and I’m now convinced that anything advertised on TV by pharma is either going to give me a third eye or kill me while saving me.
I think the same will be true for these upcoming elections. Some of the stuff we’ll hear in the upcoming local and national elections may sound good — but research the details. It may sound good but be sure it doesn’t give you a third eye or kill you while trying to save you (tax you out of your home).
As I look forward, what I do know is that this election season will likely have me buying Alka Seltzer.