Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What Barack Obama can learn from the experiences of shafted chief marketing officers

Evidently one of the most insecure jobs in the world these days is corporate Chief Marketing Officer.

According to Target Marketing Magazine’s writer Lisa Arthur, who got her information from the Spencer Stewart executive search firm, the poor S.O.B.s who take the marketer-in-chief job typically last less than three years. Well, 34.7 months, to be exact.

Why are they getting canned? And what does this have to do with Barack Obama, his job, and the jobs of the Congressmen and Senators in his party? Plenty.

Suddenly, failed marketers sound like Obama

All you have to do is read the “key risks” (actually key failures) of Chief Marketing Officers, and change a word or two. Suddenly you’re in the Oval Office.

For example?

“Running marketing tactically,” was one chief marketing officer fault. Kind of the way Obama appears to be running legislation. Tactically it was easier to get Obamacare without a single payer option. And tactically it was easier not to give the economy the megadose of stimulus money ir should have had, instead of just a bank and auto bailout. And tactically, let’s fudge those exit dates in Iraq*. And for the sake of continuity, lets leave foxes like Tim Geithner in the henhouse. And on and on.

“Failure to build and unite left brain and right brain organizations,” was another. Think of this as “cooly logical” vs. “emotional.” The President ran for office largely on emotion. Remember? Where did "Yes we can!” that emotional rallying cry go now that we need it? Instead of inspiring the American public to demand his programs, he more or less delivers stumbling lectures. His real modus operandi is, “No we can’t with all those Republicans, so let’s settle for second rate.”

“Forgetting the number one stakeholder: the customer,” was another fatal mistake that Chief Marketing Officers make. Substitute the phrase” “your base” or “the good of the electorate” for “stakeholder” and we have another Obama bummer. The people who supported Obama heard about getting out of Iraq. We heard about a public healthcare option. We heard about immigration reform. And while I’m repeating myself, we heard “Yes, we can!” which was considerably more inspiring than what Hillary seemed to be offering. Now, a great many of us are wondering how bad a mistake we made in not backing Hillary.

Then there was “Being satisfied with the status quo and not pushing to embrace and drive change in emerging channels and technologies.” Let’s talk about those channels and technologies. We were supposed to have a big alternate energy push, remember? We were going to build new American industries based on clean, green technology. Had we had the equivalent of a space program or a Manhattan Project in energy, we’d be on our way to total energy independence, with new industries hiring researchers, building factories and creating new products. (Remember that the space program built industries as varied as microchips and nonstick frying pans, to name just two out of many.) Instead, we got yet another “compromise” — this time in favor of coastal drilling, just in time for the BP oil spill.

Do I hear an objection?

You may be saying, “But, but, all those Republican obstructionists….!”

Yes, I agree Washington is littered with them. Tea Party manipulators. Lobbyists who create corruption by bribing legislators with campaign contributions. Talk shows baloney artists. Liars. Subject changers. Flimflam artists. People who try to take the focus away from preserving Social Security so you’ll get worked up over a Sufi mosque two blocks (instead of what, six blocks?) from Ground Zero. Or changing the subject from the economy to where Michelle Obama takes her vacation. God damn the Republicans! They are doing more than Al Queda ever did to undermine the United States of America and distract our attention while they bomb the economy.

But they can be overcome with one thing. Which brings me to perhaps the most important reason why Chief Marketing Officers are getting fired:

“Forgetting that the ‘Chief’ in CMO means you lead.” That’s what Presidents of the United States are also supposed to do, Mr. Obama. Not compromising with obstructionists for whom no compromise is enough. Not attempting to placate those who refuse to be placated. Lead! Inspire! Build an overwhelming demand among the public for programs that would actually create a sound economy, a future for the young, a fair and sensible tax system, better healthcare, secure retirements and an exit from pointless, useless and wasteful wars.

We, the former Obama base, are not getting that from Barack Obama. CMOs who don’t deliver last less than three years. The Obama Presidency ought to have his four years and no more. It’s time for a Democratic primary challenger to enter the party’s primaries and for the Democrats to replace Obama.

Because if we don’t, the Republicans will.

*NOTE: A day after this post appeared, the exit from Iraqof the last of American combat troops was announced. Well hallelujah! Maybe Mr. Obama is trying to keep his promises after all. Or maybe it's pressure from people like me, calling attention to the way he has failed his base, that has moved him. Or maybe it's just the coming elections. Whatever the case, we're still leaving behind noncombat troops and oodles of "private contractors." Why I am suspicious?

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