Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Marketing the change we need.....

The folks at Harvard B School were right----everything is reducible to either a marketing or financial challenge, and of course it's usually some combo of the two where solutions are found.

So it is with the health care debate, where it really is all about money, but where clever marketing can swing this in the direction we progressives voted for.

In a moment of high hubris, last week I wrote and posted an Oval Office speech for Barack that was a lukewarm attempt to bring some clarity and messaging to the party. No one's called yet from DC, so I guess my ideas might not have much traction. But we shall see....

One thing I know: you can't build the brand of 'health care for all' when you have 535 + 1 different messengers and messages running scattershot across the land. No wonder we are confused...and scared.

Barack is smart enough and persuasive enough to get this under control, and I'm kind of surprised that the communications apparatus which rallied and elected him has not been out in full force on this issue---or perhaps it is but I'm just not on the mailing list. Whatever....

Some suggestions which I hope will reach Martha's Vineyard by the weekend:

1. Never use the term 'public option' again. Bill Maher jokingly suggested that this sounds like rest room choices at a bus terminal, and he's right. No one knows what it means. Washingtonese at its worst.

2. Rebrand this entire effort with a new name and make it stick through scripting every Democrat in town. My suggestion: a new Health Security Administration, modeled after Social Security, Veterans, Medicare, and Medicaid---all government programs that work. The HSA is about health security for all, Medicare for all, a benefit that no one can take from you or your family.

3. Crank up the brochures, the email blasts, the commercials, the speeches, the town halls, all the possible touch points, with one or two basic messages that encompass the key features of health security for all, and lower costs to save the nation from fiscal disaster ten, twenty years from now.

4. Let the Republicans go their own way on this issue, and let's DO make this a referendum on the fundamental differences between our two parties on the role of government vis a vis health care concerns. Isolate them, condemn them, and let them spin slowly in the wind. Trying to accommodate their views has complicated the communication challenge and blunted forward momentum.

We'll lose this one if we don't radically shift the marketing approach. Hope someone with real power shares my views on this.

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