One thing you can definitely say about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: AOC is not a political brand.
Anyone who does not see this either doesn’t understand branding or does not fully comprehend politics — or both.
Today’s media environment blurs the traditional rules, making the task of identifying brands more complex. The convergence of entertainment and news has eroded the concept of objectivity, with journalists feeling compelled by many forces to add personal points of view. There is also pressure to react instantly, before facts are fully developed.
Liberal-leaning politicians no longer take the same care in parsing their words, so as not to alienate those who disagree with them.
And school-age children are no longer taught to see all sides of an issue. Instead, they are encouraged to parrot the opinions of their activist elders without any real discussion of what the real truth of the moment really is.
It appears that the zeitgeist of the time is that “one answer fits all” — just as long it articulates the left-leaning thought of the day.
Any deviation from it finds the skeptic — the true seeker of truth — in heated arguments and name-calling sessions.
Whatever happened to those point, counter-point arguments we saw in the 1960s, exemplified by famous debates of Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley. These discussions advanced the conversation by generating thinking over pure emotional rhetorical discourse.
With all this said, it is surprising when a talented brand like AOC doesn’t get the pushback she deserves when she makes a dumb political move that even a young student protester would likely eschew.
Make no mistake: AOC is a talent. The issue is, where does her talent lie? And the answer goes to the most obvious — social media star. And not a political brand.
Many but not all media have become cheerleaders for this brand original.
They no longer look at her critically as much as they do as a new shiny object that they feel must be covered and even encouraged.
For them, since she is a member of Congress, she must be a politician. From a branding perspective, this is the farthest thing from the truth.
As mentioned in a previous column, “Will Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Brand Last the Test of Time?,” the first rule in Politics 101 for a freshman is to “keep your mouth shut for at least the first two years in Washington. It’s only after you learn the ropes when you can start thinking about providing policy recommendations to leadership.”
Not only has AOC violated this holiest commandment of “learning the ropes,” last week she decided to wage a war against one of her Democratic Party congressional colleagues, Dan Lipinski, an eight-term incumbent, by supporting another candidate. As a result, Lipinski faces a primary.
This is truly unheard of in politics and a sign that an amateur is at work.
This short-sighted tactic will only play into the hands of her enemies. They include Joe Crowley, the congressperson she defeated in the surprising primary that she won; the New York Governor, whom she alienated by supporting her candidate for Queens District Attorney rather than his; and the regular Queens Democratic officials, along with party leaders who were also on the side of the governor. And last but not least, her own party leader, Nancy Pelosi, who would love to see her anywhere else but in Congress.
This is not to say that AOC is an untalented personality. On the contrary, she can be a force. Unfortunately, no one is informing her of these major mistakes or pointing out how the missteps will negatively affect her. In the past, the media would be pointing to these miscalculations, alerting a candidate that trouble was ahead. This is not where the country is today.
Oprah, who wrote the book on personal branding, cautions the ambitious to stay in their lanes. It appears that AOC hasn’t gotten this memo. As a result, she may pay the price and exchange a congressional seat for a more brand-consistent interview couch.
Maybe then AOC along with her supporters will understand that it is always easier when you have marketing and branding in mind.
Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the “new normal” in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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