What Fresh Hell Is This?

December 22, 2004

Of Frames and Memes and Slogans, etc.

There's always much food for thought to be found at Daily KOS -- an abundance of riches, as it were. This particular 'diary' ("Learning from Scott McClellan's briefing on bombings in Iraq") caught my attention...maybe because it's something that I was hammering on at the latest Democracy for America meetup...maybe because the writer also has a marketing background.

The topic is how to sell the Democrats to "The People."

I'm repeating the comments that I made on Daily KOS to the above mentioned diary here because I believe that they can stand on their own:

People Learn From Repetition

It's very simple. At the most basic level people learn from repetition.

A mother says says, "Say 'Moma, Moma'" to a baby a thousand times before the baby repeats it. Later, we sing the alphabet song many times before we learn to read. We then practice writing the alphabet over and over again.

Advertisers know that a message must be repeated many times before we remember their product.

Advertisers also know that a catchy jingle or memorable image speeds up the process.

We all know that we sometimes get a song stuck in our heads that we may not even like.

Certain images are so powerful that they become iconic. The napalmed, naked child in Vietnam became shorthand for the immorality of that war.

The phrase "flip-flop" became iconic for the Republican charge that Kerry had no moral center and could not be trusted. It dovetailed with their flip side of the coin that Bush was someone who you "knew where he stood."

Clinton, who could be an eloquent speaker, stuck with, "It's the economy, stupid." (Short, sweet, and to the point.)

Kerry jumped around with a new phrase each week: The Real Deal; Believe in America; A Stronger America. None of these phrases said anything specific. The American public said that they did not know what Kerry stood for.

The vast majority of American voters pay far less attention to politics than we do here. We are competing for their attention with everything else in their lives; and they give far more priority to everything else in their lives.

There is nothing immoral in giving the American voter a succinct memorable message (if that message is true).

Democrats must learn to frame their message and tell a story to the voter. Then we have to stay on message and BEAT IT TO DEATH.

It is that simple.

Coming up with a good message is not that simple. The Republicans are eons ahead of us on this. They have years of think tanks and talk radio on their side. They have a more black & white world view that more naturally shapes their message.

What do Democrats stand for?

It cannot be a check list of issues. It must be something as simple as LL's "freedom" meme.

Or it can be a "justice" meme, as in:

Economic Justice
Social Justice
Ecological Justice
Global Justice

The point being, it must be easily understandable, positive and memorable.

I'm fine with 'freedom' or 'justice' or 'liberty' (...for all -- pun intended).

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