Published August 18, 2010
It doesn’t matter how many swims in the Gulf President Obama takes unless he starts listening to the people and stops listening to his ideology -- his brand will only get weaker.
I believe that the president has become a niche president whose focus is to a more upscale, highly education target market. Unless he pivots to include all Americans, he is doomed to become a one-term president.
I’m talking specifically about his position on the Ground Zero mosque.
Of course, a president must stand for the highest ideals of our country. And religious toleration is one of our finest ideals (if only the rest of world did it as well as we do at honoring it).
But the Ground Zero mosque uproar isn’t about religious toleration, it’s about defending what’s sacred in America and it’s about being realistic when it comes to important symbolism.
Fact is, it’s about defending our country plain and simple – and that’s supposed to be a president’s top priority.
Folks, I said it all last week, but let me boil it down. The initiative to put up this particular mosque is not only tone deaf but an aggressive act by a very questionable group. Besides being in the poorest of tastes, there is no way that a victory by the mosque builders won’t be seen as some kind of victory for the jihadists who perpetrated the 2001 attack.
Instead of listening to his people and their attempts to express what they are rightly feeling, President Obama has decided to over-ride them by blindly applying ideals that don’t really apply to the situation. This is offensive and condescending to the American people because it assumes that their outrage is racist and anti-Muslim when it is, in fact, legitimate.
Bottom line, even if the president clarifies his initial position, my guess is that the brand damage has been done. People will remember that his first public reaction was to dismiss theirs.
And, remember, things are always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert and president of the Marketing Department of America who markets his own services as The Marketing Doctor. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum and the author of a new book "People Buy Brands, Not Companies."
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