Now that the general election has ended, and the airwaves are again filled with pitches for pizza, insurance, and drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, I am left shaking my head. What makes political strategists think they can defy a fundamental rule of persuasion?
I refer to the law of verisimilitude. Every marketer worth his or her paycheck knows it. Very simply, above all else, a message must be believable.
Yet, the political machines spat out an unrelenting shower of misinformation. Some ads were so obviously false, they begged the voter to ask: What kind of fool do they take me for?
An election is, essentially, the packaging and selling of candidates. But it functions with unique market dynamics, notably aggressive brand comparison. Political candidates and referenda are the only products for which negative attack ads work. They work so well, they suck up almost all of the election cycle’s media dollars.
However, it turns out that a bigger megaphone can be a shotgun aimed at the barker’s own feet. Internet blogs and social media networks have made it easier to see through smoke and noise. Voters are more empowered than ever before to recognize half-truths, distortions, and statements out of context.
Ultimately, if the customer perceives a seller thinks him a fool, backlash ensues. When the sales figures are tallied, the seller will find himself in a blue state.