Lost in the supermarket

Susan Delacourt reviews Political Marketing in Canada, which includes an interview with Conservative strategist Patrick Muttart.

“Close campaigns are decided by the least informed, least engaged voters,” Muttart told Lees-Marshment. “These voters do not go looking for political news and information. This necessitates brutally simple communication with clear choices that hits the voter whether they like it or not. Journalists and editorialists often complain about the simplicity of political communication, but marketers must respond to the reality that undecided voters are often not as informed or interested as the political and media class are.”

Political purists may clutch at their pearls when they hear that candour from Muttart, but realists have always known that modern campaigns are not fought in the intellectual salons. The contributors to this book, who would all be entirely at home in those salons, have actually done us a service in putting an academic frame around realpolitik. Collectively, they have charted that trajectory of politics out of academia into the marketplace, and then bounced it back into the ivory tower for rigorous, researched analysis.

The Obama campaign’s machine for creating and testing its advertising—as explained in this piece by Sasha Issenberg—seems to represent the latest frontier in political marketing.