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Name that Plan!

Jen Sorensen
© Jen Sorensen



  1. starluna wrote:

    I’m a big fan of using social marketing techniques to promote social goods. There is the danger, though, of the message becoming the whole policy. Media messages are shallow by their very nature. These policies are too important to be sold entirely on such a shallow view of them.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 2:06 pm | Permalink
  2. ubrayj02 wrote:


    You sound incredibly naive. I bet you’re a hit at party games like “Lefties say the darndest thing” but, unfortunately, politics is not a party game. Convincing massive amounts of people to support an idea requires marketing, psychology, money, and highly sculpted media messages. The masses demand nothing less.

    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
  3. Actually, UBRAYJ02, Starluna is far from naive. Actually, she’s right that too many policies have been little more than media manipulation and pork.
    I don’t agree with Starluna that a truly engaging media message wouldn’t be a real help here (if she’s actually arguing against better branding). But I fully agree with Starluna that *merely* improving the branding, and at the expense of the core of the policy improvements, would be a disaster.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 5:01 am | Permalink
  4. starluna wrote:

    Actually, I’ve got plenty of experience using social marketing techniques to do things like encourage college-age women to carry and use condoms (way back in the early 1990s when that was a real challenge), to motivate young, immigrant mothers to use Western health care facilities, and even to convince voters to support maintaining taxes to cover basic services, like roads and schools (you’d be surprised at how hard that is).

    I do agree that those who want health care reform need to use better media messages. But there also needs to be reasonable discourse about what we really want. So far, the discussion has been about health insurance. Do you honestly care how doctors get paid? Or do you care about whether it is affordable, whether there are incentives to withhold treatment or over-treat, and whether you will get the care you need, when you need it? No amount of social marketing can replace the dialogue that needs to happen about what we want and what role we want government to have in making it happen.

    The Republicans adopted a strategy of marketing sans substance, which allowed them to build a base among religious evangelicals. For the past few years, they have been losing key “markets” within that community. Black evangelicals and young evangelicals have moved away from the Republican party in every poll since the election and it isn’t just because of Obama. It’s because they realized that they have been deceived.

    Marketing is a seductive tool and I’ve seen too many people mistake the success that comes with using certain tools for substantive social progress. I’ve seen in both in political campaigns where campaign managers were focused more on the candidate’s wardrobe than on engaging the voters. I’ve seen it in environmental campaigns where slick messaging was not followed up with substantive proposals. Let’s remember that the branding, by itself, does not make for progressive change.

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  5. @Starluna. Ok, yes, agreed. The use of branding/marketing over substantial discourse–worse, as a replacement for it–is appalling.

    I would give your post more thought, but my brain is fried this morning. (I have gifted myself with a two-day tedium of great meticulousness, which may lead to no benefit or a new job for my partner. My eyes are currently trying to do a line-dance alone.)

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  6. K!M wrote:

    anyone else see Conan last night? I think Bill Maher has a few good points:

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink