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    Barack and the new US


    Earlier this year, one of my favourite US business magazines, Fast Company, made the following observation:

    Win or lose, Barack’s rise reveals a new reality in the marketplace.

    The fact that Obama has taken what we thought we knew about politics and turned it into a different game for a different generation is no longer news.

    What Obama’s success says about business is the far more interesting story.

    But first, what has the 47 year-old President-Elect pledged for the economy…

    1. Tax cuts (Individuals): Immediate tax cuts ($500 for individuals, $500 for families) for households making less than $25,000 and for retired senior citizens making up to $50,000.
    2. Tax cuts (Businesses): Eliminate capital gains taxes on small and start-up business investments, In 2009 and 2010, give businesses a $3,000 income tax credit for each new employee they hire above their current work force.
    3. Job creation: Invest $25bn to repair roads and bridges and to make schools energy efficient. Double loan guarantees for automakers to $50bn.

    What does this mean?

    Quite simply, his pledges are about putting more money back into the market, so that punters will start spending again and, hopefully, jump start the economy.

    It’s not rocket science.

    Cutting taxes is a safe bet. Spending on capital works also has a proven heritage.

    While eliminating capital gains for some business activities and creating incentives to hire new staff is genuinely inspired (bring it on!), what will be more interesting to watch is the potential effect that ‘Brand Obama’ will have on the US psychology.

    Politics, after all, is about marketing.

    It’s about projecting and selling an image, stoking aspirations, moving people to identify, evangelise and, of course, consume.

    Will brand Obama inject optimism into the market? Is his way of doing things a wake-up call for business – get authentic or take a hike? Are his movements genuine signals for marketers, including those in Australia?

    It seems that any forward-thinking business would be wise to examine the implications of his ascent, from his inclusive approach to leadership to the social networking tools his campaign used to raise funds, populate events and, ultimately, win votes.

    I’ll leave the last word to Fast Company:

    The promotion of the brand called Obama is a case study of where the American marketplace – and potentially, the global one – is moving.

    His openness to the way consumers today communicate with one another, his recognition for the desire of ‘authentic’ products and his understanding of the need for a new global image – are all valuable signals for marketers everywhere.