Will Bunnett

Politics • Branding • Psychology

The Party of No Goes Yes

First of all, it’s a steep challenge for Senate Republicans in particular to pull off a rebranding from the Party of No to the Party of Yes, since they have spent the last four and a half years saying no to:

  • Cabinet appointments
  • Judicial nominees
  • Health care reform
  • Job creation for teachers and first responders
  • High speed rail
  • Action on climate change
  • Wall Street reform
  • Campaign finance reform
  • And dozens of other proposals, big and small

But their video does succeed in giving me three main reactions:

One – I Want an iPhone

When people who say Yes aren’t on Twitter or Facebook, they’re on their iPhones. That’s what the visuals from this video taught me, anyway. But as much as the video made those phones look cool, if you want to change perceptions about your brand being obstructionist, sorry, there isn’t an app for that.

Two – “Our Pizza Isn’t Full of Poison”

A friend and I were talking about this video, and he said it was like a politician announcing that he no longer beats his wife. I get that; it’s tough to address a negative without reinforcing it. But for me, it calls to mind pizza.

Specifically, a few years ago Pizza Hut took two steps to fix negative perceptions about the quality of their pizza. First step: use better ingredients in your new pizza. Second step: put out ads reminding everyone about the disgusting things you used to feed them in your old pizza!

I probably wouldn’t have recommended that approach for Pizza Hut, but I bet it still worked better for them than this will for Senate Republicans. For one thing, it’s highly unlikely that Republicans will take the necessary first step and change their ingredients — in other words, they don’t seem like they’re on the cusp of actually voting yes on more nominations and bills.

Three – Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

The final reason this stab at rebranding won’t work is that it won’t be repeated enough. To establish a brand — and especially to reestablish it — you need to consistently communicate your new brand through multiple channels, over and over again. Coors Light didn’t become the Silver Bullet by recording a single web ad; for years, they’ve pushed that slogan in TV ads, in radio ads, on billboards, in sponsorship materials, on product packaging, and elsewhere.

Technically, I can’t guarantee that Senate Republicans will not repeat this message often enough to make a difference. But it would take the kind of ad budget I don’t think they’re going to spend, because they won’t embrace free opportunities to repeat the narrative — they won’t start voting yes on nominations and legislation.

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