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Real You: Balloon dropping, much huffing and puffing, but still not resonating

Posted on | September 5, 2008 | 2 Comments

By Kaira Sturdivant Rouda

Yes, this marketing-to-women community on eBrandMarketing is ferociously focused on Sarah Palin and what she means for: 1. women; 2. glass ceilings; 3. real messaging. Fara Warner, Delia Passi and others have written eloquently about whether the Republican VP pick was an overt pandering ploy to lure unsuspecting (uneducated or easily fooled?) women voters who were disappointed that Hillary Clinton didn’t get the P or VP nod. (Note to all: we aren’t that stupid or easily fooled, although some of us  are prone to support other women as we want so much to see that very visible glass broken.)

But let’s be real. Women, since the beginning of our right to vote, have voted with our brains when the candidates were put before us. We aren’t a block to be wooed, but individuals to be connected with. That’s the major point in marketing to women. Sarah Palin knows her target audience. She says she’s both a Sam’s Club Republican and a Hockey Mom – the now famous pit bull with lipstick line - and if you are one of those, you should vote for her. The campaign also says she’s perfect to appeal to rural, small-town women and lower income suburban women. That’s who they – the Republican marketing machine – thinks she’ll appeal to, but will she? That’s the BIG question.

Which women are you marketing your brand to? Specifically. And what is in it for her? At least the Republican camp is specificish. And they need to be, because I’m sorry, but a pure blooded, left wing democrat isn’t going to go for a pure blooded right wing woman just because of her gender. We are smarter than that. But a lot of marketers just don’t believe that, not yet, in the political arena and beyond. I can’t tell you how many text messages and emails I received after the Palin announcement asking: “Now who will you vote for?”

What? While I appreciate the basic humanity in both parties – witness the bad convention hall dancing by delegates at each event – I am not part of a voting block. Do I want to see a woman in the White House some day. Absolutely. Do I hope that day is soon. Certainly. Will the fact of Sarah Palin’s nomination to the second highest office in the land be beneficial to the vision of a woman in the White House? We’ll see.

So far, I’ve seen an amazingly poised, politician, mother and wife who just jumped into my awareness. There is a lot of huff and puff surrounding her and her nomination. I’m not going to pass judgement on her because she is a woman, and my hope, although I worry about this, is that those of us who are women won’t judge her more strictly because she is one of us. I’ll tell you this much: her speech was much more powerful than John McCain’s. I like that in a woman, as a role model, whether I vote for her or not.

My problem with the advertising, the staging of the conventions, the pundits, the whole election ball of wax is that nothing seems all that real. Nothing. Even with a new face, a female face, on the scene – it feels strangely like the same ole same ole. All of us out here in the heartland – us all important swing states (I’m writing from Ohio) – want to believe. Want to feel. The “liberal elite news media” seemed to feel something from the punches thrown their way, but most of us watching felt more of the same. And days later, after both conventions, you only remember the show bloopers: Walter Reed Middle School instead of Walter Reed Army Medical Center on the screen behind McCain, for example.

Please, just talk to us. Stop swiping at each other. Tell it to us straight. How are we going to end the recession? Why will you make it better? When will the housing crisis end? Can you stop the escalating issues with other countries, keep us safe, eliminate our dependence on foreign energy from hostile nations, make our schools better, our health care stronger, our air cleaner? Sometimes, here in the heartland, we feel like if you keep huffing and puffing you’ll blow all of our houses down. And speaking for the real estate industry, those who work tirelessly helping folks try to achieve the dream of home ownership, or simply keep what they’ve bought, we’ve had enough of that.

And to either party in the future, when you pick somebody to run as your vice president – man or woman – show us that you actually believe in the person as a person. That you know her. The media should be able to pull out images of you working together in the past, standing side by side, laughing with you, or knowing you before you try to convince us the selection was heart felt. Or just tell us it was politics as usual and forget the balloon drop.

Kaira Sturdivant Rouda’s Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs is available online and at bookstores nationwide.   


2 Responses to “Real You: Balloon dropping, much huffing and puffing, but still not resonating”

  1. Erin
    September 5th, 2008 @ 8:38 am

    Yes, please just talk to us and be REAL!!!

  2. Kay
    September 8th, 2008 @ 11:11 am

    While I love the idea of having a female as President or even Vice President I still can’t bring myself to vote for her or the Republican party. Just because they put a female face on the party doesn’t make it ok. However… I no matter what the outcome of this election is (in my opinion) this race has helped move the US in the right direction. Showing that there is potential for someone other than an elderly white male to run the country.

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