Elle (llieno) wrote,

Prey, Cease

The Precis

For those wondering what 30% of the a university Translation course mark is determined in:

1) Be given one long article in German - http://www.harvardbusinessmanager.de/strategien/artikel/a-601026.html

2) The Secret of the Obama Brand

Whether you are a personal fan of Barack Obama or not, one thing stands beyond debate – the new CEO of the United States of America has radically changed the rules of the game when it comes to marketing. The rise of the Obama brand is by now the epitome of perfect marketing for many experts, independent from his nationality or political hue. The trade journal ‘Advertising Age’ rightly honoured Barack Obama with the title ‘Marketer of the Year’. The Obama campaign has given the world of marketing a new impetus, and a kind of rebirth of branding, a branding for the people, with the people and by the people.

What is true for politics is all the more true for the economy. It is ultimately a question of marketing – the creation of positive images, the raising of hope, the development of areas of identification and about persuasion and consumption. As with every great and successful brand, Obama succeeded in building a relationship with his target group, a relationship built on trust.

Americans have wished for years that their government would be more strongly led following the example of a commercial enterprise. The truth is, most commercial enterprises can in fact learn a good deal from Barack Obama and his team.

The important findings, which are taken up in this article, range from trend-setting ideas right up to the application of tried and tested tools, which are actually so common that for many brands, they have seemingly gone astray. The achievement of Obama consists particularly in having combined these in a new and fascinating style and manner. The outstandingly co-ordinated marketing machine has brought Obama’s candidacy down the right path, from an unlikely to an inevitable victory.

Thesis 1: Leading with humility, calmness, and an overview!

Obama embodies a new style of leadership – a style, which meets the challenges of a complicated world like no other. With his style of ‘Adaptive Leadership’, he breaks through barriers and achieves lasting change. The ‘visionary’ leader frequently has a clear plan of what he wants, and his team then as a rule implement exactly that, whilst a ‘adaptive’ boss works hard on a such a plan together with the current parties. His goal is to motivate his employees to propose improvements, in order to optimise the process of the enterprise, or even the performance of the brand. The freer they feel with this process, the higher the gain of recognition, and ultimately, the better the results. Obama is successful in establishing an environment, in which employees can articulate their ideas and viewpoints without concern. He had gathered clever and strong-minded heads around him, and is therefore not too proud to adapt his opinion or strategy when the suggestions of his comrades-in-arms are more convincing than his own.

In the style of Lincoln, Obama had often testified that humility is the most important virtue. Humility offers the foundations of his strength of leadership. Self-awareness coupled with modesty encourages a team culture without the stress of dominance of employees. An important recognition for all executives is thus that it is not harmful to be friendly, informal and accessible – humanity and warmth capture hearts and can establish trust. Sincere interest in the remarks of employees and active support of their realisation, combined with personal humility can considerably help bring about a co-operative and enthusiastic working climate.

An indispensable characteristic of every executive and of every brand leader who can radically change the lives of others with their decisions and actions is their discretion. It is the talent to have a calm hand at all times, and the strength to constantly control strong emotions, in order to be able to react level-headedly in extreme situations. Business life is necessarily full of failures. If an enterprise makes no failures, then is on the whole not taking enough risks. Ultimately what is decided is only how these failures are circumvented. Performances of companies and stock prices in a sense also depend on the calmness and level-headedness of the leadership of the enterprise. Executives achieve the acknowledgement of their employees directly through remaining in control in crisis situations of whatever magnitude. Such behaviour causes admiration – encouragement, passion, loyalty, and a high degree of identification are frequently the results.

Barack Obama has won votes with a combination of a presidential aura and a presidential appearance. No question, he is cool. If he has ever beforehand broken into a sweat, no-one has yet remarked on it to him. In the debates, he was consistently unshakable and not did not in the slightest lose his cool, even with attacks that lay well below the belt. Throughout the entire distance of the election campaign, his stateliness and his strength, even with growing burdens, counted towards his integral qualities. Just as Barack Obama had shaken off unappetising attacks with an seemingly almost unreal calm, so should executives and brand leaders respectively react to bad news and unexpected setbacks: with a clear personal approach and convincing credibility.

A very good example for the style and way Barack Obama was so serious with his style of campaign leadership is provided by his speech on election night, after his overwhelming victory was secured. Every contribution was appreciated, no-one was forgotten. First of all, he very convincingly thanked his rival John McCain, who in his opinion had done more for his country, more than most people could appreciate. Afterwards, he thanked his future vice-president, his wife, his daughters, his grandmother and his family. Then he thanked his campaign manager, his chief of strategy, his campaign team and not least his voters, who he would never forget, to whom this election victory truly belonged. The emotional high point of his speech, in which he thanked by name and very personally a voter for her vote, he left to the 106 year-old old Afro-American Ann Nixon Cooper, who hours before had given her best at her vote: “I have no time to die!”

Thesis 2: Expand the playing field, and define new rules!

Whether in business or in politics, we all feel secure in our usual routines and abide by the well-known rules of the game. Enterprises evaluate an initiative as a general success, if it is carried out for the most part in the same style and fashion, as long as it brings marginally better results as a result. What is problematic about this is that the fact that the competition can almost never be outwitted using the old rules. In order to meaningfully grow, you must open up new fields of action and within them be one step ahead of the competitors. You must change the rulebook, or to be more precise, expand it. You must keep watch for new vacancies, and fill these with appropriate energy.

In the Democratic preliminaries, it was Hilary Clinton who has secured the support of the biggest financiers, and thus thought that she had left the competition behind her. Obama knew from the beginning that he must adopt new and fundamentally different approaches. He distinctly relied less on the theme of campaign expenditure from large firms or lobbyists. To him it was clear, that it would be easier for him to receive one dollar from 100,000 supporters than 100,000 dollars from one supporter. By doing this, Obama identified the small contributions for himself, and used the Internet to effectively generate this. This method of collecting donations has changed the future of American campaign financing in the long term. Obama has raised over the course of his campaign in the region of $745 million – more than double the amount McCain could collect. Obama’s campaign expenditure even eclipsed the sum of both candidates of the previous presidential campaign in 2004, George W Bush and John Kerry. The result was a ‘war chest’ that was bulging from the beginning and just kept growing, which Obama made possible, even in the states where he was competing against John McCain which previously has been solid Republican territory. John McCain could do nothing to oppose this.

A brilliant brand leader does not fight for a larger slice of the cake, he far more seeks to bake a bigger cake, in which he can incorporate new customers. Obama targeted not only previous or possible votes with his message. Whilst many politicians cater for “the mobilisation of the base”, Obama went further and mobilised young first voters and previous non-voters. He managed to energise millions of new voters, who as a consequence to some extent became true supporters.

On top of this, Obama let loose the potential of self-organisation, in which he created a hard-hitting, versatile organisation. A strongly controlled core, surrounded by self-organised cells, which consisted of volunteers, contributors, colleagues and other parties, have carried collective responsibility for a great goal. He brought people together, and not only those from his immediate vicinity. Obama was successful at reaching out to people and uniting them despite all geographic, organisational and emotional hurdles, in order to collectively realise the overriding goal – Change. In contrast to this, McCain’s organisation was trapped in a rigid and restricted ‘Command & Control’ corset.

Thesis 3: Take a convincing position, and hold to it!

Obama made his vision for the campaign public a day before the preliminaries of 2006. Shortly after the Democrats had achieved a majority in Congress, he felt that it was time to lead a new style of campaign. Thus he laid the cornerstone for a campaign systematic, which took on board the political disenchantment of the citizens. Obama delivered a simple, consistent and confident promise: ‘change’. He connected this promise with the effective appeal ‘yes we can’. In that he both appealed to the rational wish for change as well as the emotional need for hope, he gave himself, or more specifically his brand, the chance to develop a great movement.

The chosen positioning coincided at all times with the fundamental personal views of Senator Obama, which had already been represented in various publications and speeches. This authentic position found rapid massive appeal amongst the public. Through the impulse-creation of the charismatic figurehead Obama, the abstract hope of transition and change turned into a concrete, collective climate of credibility, feasibility and confidence. In this context, Obama could time and time again prove in a convincing manner that the reported ‘change’ was for him easily more than just a prefabricated calculated campaign slogan. Obama’s electoral success is above all based on his capacity to convince the voters that he embodies a new type of politics, a new type of governance. He would hardly have been able to win without adopting this change and personalising it himself. Thus the voters finally saw in Obama the outstanding qualities of a competent decision-maker, who does not only stand symbolically for change, but still more – a strong and solid personality, that also vouches real change.

As so often, timing was the deciding factor. The country was ripe, even overdue, for a change – not just ripe for the departure of the incumbent Republican government, but also for a renunciation of the established and traditional style and manner of politics. The Americans meaningfully sensed that the misconduct of the government, the international conflicts and a far-reaching loss of reputation had assumed a dangerous level: 70 percent of US-citizens were at this time of the view that the contemporary government found itself on a lost course.

A present strength of the Obama campaign was the great reliability with which he held fast to his vision throughout the entire duration of his presidential campaign. In contrast to Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain and their campaign strategists time and time again experimented with different visions and promises at different times. With this, they undervalued – not to say neglected – the power of continuity. Too often, politicians change their colours with the wind. Fixed on surveys, their viewpoints in the struggle for various target groups are progressively newly adjusted and have as an end effect merely caused a contribution to the systematic dilution of all campaign substance.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign fate was sealed through her pollsters. Instead of establishing a clear position and then unconditionally holding to it, pollsters alternately determined what, in the opinion of the voters, they wanted to hear. The resulting lack of clarity and consistency lead to her in many cases being perceived as an opportunist who would say anything and do whatever it took to achieve power.

The same is brought forward by many enterprises and brands. Instead of holding to a clear vision, they stagger from one strategy to the next or good-naturedly follow the current fashion of the ‘coolest’ advised trends. The root of this is often that the management have no clear understanding of the present distinguishing features of enterprises and brands respectively: this means that simply lacks a deep understanding of what differs an enterprise or an own brand from the competition, and what makes it better. However, this sort of understanding creates the self-awareness with which a position and strategy is determined and continually transformed. If at first the strengths are recognised and appropriately clear, strategic principles developed, the focus can lie with confidence on the essential commercial fields of competence - independent of what the competition says or does.

3) The Secret of the Obama Brand

In the views of the authors, Barack Obama’s award as ‘Marketer of the Year’ is well-justified. His brand has become the epitome of perfect marketing, and most commercial enterprises can learn a lot from Obama and his brand, as what is true for politics also applies to business. Obama’s immense success comes from having combined a number of ideas into an outstandingly co-ordinated marketing machine.

Lead with humility, calmness and an overview!

Obama’s new style of leadership has broken through barriers by being adaptive rather than visionary. He motivates his staff, and works on his plan together with them to optimise performance. For Obama, humility offers the foundations of strong leadership through encouraging a team culture. If executives are friendly and accessible, an enthusiastic working environment can be realised.

Discretion is also important. Obama’s presidential aura, in which he kept his cool and appeared unshakable, was one of his integral qualities. Executives can learn from his calmness and credibility while under attack, and should plan for emergencies before they happen, which also earns them the respect and admiration of their employees.

Obama’s victory speech showed his campaign overview by thanking personally his rival, team, family and voters.

Expand the playing field, and define new rules!

To be one step ahead of the competition, the rulebook must be expanded. Obama knew from the onset that he could not compete with Hillary Clinton for the big financiers, so he instead asked for small donations from his many supporters. In total, he raised $475 million.

A brilliant brand leader does not fight for a larger slice of the cake, but seeks to bake a bigger cake. Obama did this by mobilising millions of new voters. In addition, he encouraged versatile self-organisation, surrounding himself with volunteers and contributors. He reached out to new people and united them against the odds for his goal, whilst McCain’s organisation was left restricted and rigid.

Take a convincing position, and hold to it!

Obama adopted his campaign vision early on and held to it. Backed by his convincing personality, Obama’s appeal of ‘change’ was shown to be more than a campaign slogan. America was ripe for change after the previous administration, not just administrative, but also in the nature of politics. McCain and Clinton, who changed their promises depending on what they thought the public wanted to hear, appeared as opportunists in comparison. Likewise, enterprises should realise their own strengths and hold to them, rather than following current trends, to achieve success.


Okay, so you're only meant to do steps 1 and 3. But I find it much easier to summarise in English, and besides, the translation comes as good practice for the actual translation exam, not to mention expanding my vocabularly. Even if it does take AGES...

Have lots to post about, but not the time now.
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