Enlarging the Playing Field

Tonight I was watching 60 Minutes and they were running a story on Obama’s advisors and how they managed the campaign.  Anita Dunn, the communications, research, and policy advisor, said of David Plouffe, the campaign manager:  “David’s mantra was that we were gonna enlarge the playing field.”

This struck me.  The idea was that the campaign was going to go everywhere it could in the United States to inspire a grassroots campaign of alienated voters who wanted someone to connect to.  It would go to states no one thought Obama could win in, just because there was a substantial number of people not previously involved in elections.  These people could be harnessed to campaign for Obama, become neighborhood captains, go door-to-door to get votes.  Morever, Obama recognized that these people WANTED to do so, whereas Obama’s adversaries just thought they were all politically lazy.  Obama was the example of a leader people wanted, and this brought out all these voters that the Clinton and McCain campaigns neglected.  Obama’s advisors, in fact, mention how well Obama responded as a leader, through calmness and thoughtfulness and consistency of purpose, and how that made all aspects of the rest of his campaign easier.

Back in January, I wrote about Obama’s campaign against Hillary:

“Now turn to Obama. He has unlocked the power of my generation and the generation after me. Large numbers of young people and first-time voters are supporting Obama, while Hillary Clinton’s constituency is increasingly becoming marginalized as very old voters and women who just want to see a female president.”

This was set against a backdrop of the Nintendo strategy, which set out to release the Wii, a gaming platform that would appeal to all the other people in the world (children, women, older people) than just the hard-core gamers who play Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  Experts scoffed, but my friend Chris pointed out to me that Nintendo will sell a shitload of Wiis because of their strategy.  And he was exactly right.  The Wii and DS, both Nintendo products, still outsell their competitors.

It’s great to see old strategies fail, those strategies that wrote everyone else off, including people like me, as unimportant and powerless.  For all the junk we hear about how omnipotent businessmen can be, it’s quite often that they get comfortable in their position and stop innovating or trying to keep their edge.  It’s then that they start to write off the up and coming trends, until one day they look around and see that everyone else has passed them by.  There was another moment this week of this effect occuring, and Gary Vaynerchuk documented it well; it was when Howard Stern spoke on his radio show about how useless blogs are:

[watch the video through this link, as wordpress won’t let me embed the video =(]

Vaynerchuk points out that all the individual bloggers out there right now are doing exactly what Stern did to get to where he is today: be completely honest and talk about all the things going on his life, no matter how menial or boring to some others. That Stern writes off the ability for anyone to speak their mind shows that Stern is no longer a relevant force in the idea of the normal guy making a name out of having his own opinion.

Any more incumbent interests out there who are going to get taken down by their own hubris and the army of people out there who are ready to take their place?

Let’s hope that Obama, for his part, will continue to empower us all to strive for more for ourselves and for our country, as he made us believe in when we elected him.

Paging Michael Porter


Filed under Business, Economics, Government, Internet, Marketing, Politics, Web

2 responses to “Enlarging the Playing Field

  1. xmplary

    I guess I’m one of those alienated and first time voters that finally felt like my vote would mean something in making a difference in our future. I saw the difference between a true leader and a “Maverick” Republican. I saw McCain making the first bad decision in selecting a VP candidate that seem to have the intelligence of Bush’s sister, if he had one. Seeing the Republicans shamelessly trying to sling mud at Obama was just too much as well. If for nothing else, I voted for change from 8 years of shame. I know that Obama has a lot to clean up after the partying Republicans leave office. I wish him and the American people the best.

  2. Pingback: Big, Interesting, Mysterious Pragmatic Problems « Ben Turner’s Blog

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