Democratic Debate… Or Branding Genius?

Mitch Joel wrote on his blog this week that the real winner of the recent democratic presidential debate wasn’t a candidate, but was YouTube.

I completely agree.

You’ve got to admit, Monday’s debate was marketing genius. Almost all of the reporting (and blogging) I’ve seen on this has been about the companies, not the candidates. To this extent, regardless of the problems associated with the debate, YouTube has come out on top. Even Jon Stewart, who you can usually rely on to cut through to the real issues, focused on YouTube.

(For the record, I don’t rely on Stewart for my current affairs knowledge – it’s a comedy show. However, his show is probably the best thing out there for cutting through marketing and spin).

I could rant about the state of democratic debate when two huge brand names dominate coverage, but I’d rather marvel at the marketing genius that managed to set this up. The two brands managed such dominance of the event that it became, not “the democratic debate sponsored by YouTube/CNN,” but “the YouTube/CNN debate.”

You’ve got to admit, this was fairly cool. The video question format helped not only to engage the increasingly alienated younger demographic, but also brought some relevance to the predictably-themed questions.

Unfortunately, a lot of people/groups missed their opportunies on Monday night:

  • The candidates, rather than taking a few chances in this new format, stuck with their same, old, standard answers to the questions, and did nothing to distinguish themselves
  • CNN, while it did well out of this too, stirred up controversy (deliberately? you decide) about its choice of questions

YouTube, however, came out on top. Google strikes again.

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.