Politicians think I’m stupid

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

27 January 2010

Newt Gingrich’s brand takes a hit. Who does he think we are?

As a brand strategist, I have worked for almost 30 years developing brand strategies and finding ways to provide ownership of transformative ideas that increase a brand’s ability to attract new customers and influence prospects.

Unknown-2This morning, I came into my office and listened to a voice mail from Jeremy Davis, who said he was calling me from Newt Gingrich’s offices. He said I had been selected by Newt to serve on an advisory panel concerning business. He said that they were preparing a press release and I should call him back ASAP to give them permission to publicize my name.

As a brand expert, taking any personal politics out of this, I asked myself, “What does the Newt Gingrich brand own?” By assessing brand ownership, a set of permissions arises. In other words, if the brand owns such and such, it has permission to say such and such and act in such and such a manner. Everything a brand says, does and supports must be reflective of those permissions and they need to be viewed as legitimate within those confines. Otherwise, a brand is just not believable.

When I think about the Newt Gingrich brand, I think the positives it owns are “no-nonsense, brashness, not politics as usual, integrity beyond what is expedient, and the telling of truth as the brand really believes it to be.” I think even the enemies of the Newt Gingrich brand would acknowledge those are the positives. (For sake of discussion, let’s leave out the negatives.)

So, with this background in mind, I called Jeremy Davis back. Of course, I did not get Jeremy on the phone. Instead, a pleasant young lady answered the phone, took my name and asked the name of my company. She told me that, while Jeremy was currently unavailable, she could help me.

She then said, “Oh, Stealing Share is headquartered in Greensboro NC, right?” I said we were indeed from North Carolina and she replied, “Newt has a message for you. Let me play it for you and then I will be back to answer any of your questions.”

With that, I was treated to a pre-recorded message from Newt who then informed me how fed up I was with the administration and how upset I was that the Obama administration did not care about business. He told me that he needed my help and ideas.

This is my recollection of the recording. But it was obvious to me at that point, listening a recording, this was not for ME, it was for ANYONE who would listen and send him money.

As a brand strategist, my brand curiosity kept me on the call. It was more powerful a draw than my desire to flee because I knew I was being duped. By the way, Newt then thanked me for taking the time to hear his important message because he “knew how busy I was.”

His pre-recorded message ended, but the woman who had originally answered my call into Jeremy was not on the line. Instead another gentleman picked up the call and said his job was to “fill me in on the details” and to answer my questions.

Each time I asked him a question, he recited a pre-written response, which ended with the question, “So can Newt count on your help?”

After three rounds of getting no real details, I decided to cut to the chase and ask, “Are there any fees involved?”

The Newt salesman answered, “Well, we are going to be asking for a donation so that your name will appear in the list of names in the full page Wall Street Journal ad we are taking out.” At which point I said that I had already made my political contributions for the year — and he hung up.

So let’s revisit the attributes of the “Newt Gingrich Brand” highlighted earlier. Are the attributes of “no-nonsense, brashness, not politics as usual, integrity beyond what is expedient, and the telling of truth “ still realized in my head? Well, “brashness” still applies. But ask me now what the Newt Gingrich brand owns and I will tell you “duplicity, slight of hand, a lack of regard for my time and intelligence, and politics as usual.”

Too bad. I thought the brand was better than the man.


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