Key vs Clark: Brand Trust?

The recent New Zealand election was pretty much run as a brand-related marketing campaign. The first time in history when all the parties applied strong branding to their communication with the public. The Greens were a good example. Their campaign was all about the brand, meaning, party vote. A de-emphasis on personality. Act made it all about Hide. A different approach. 

Clark made it about trust in the brand. Comparatively to Key. One of the fatal mistakes with this approach is that of course no one trusts Key. Why, because they really have no real experience of him as Prime Minister. He is a riskier option but in some way and in this context a ‘sexier’ option from a change perspective. But also, like most new brands, most people are willing to have a go. Trial the brand and see whether trust in that brand is something your actually want to develop.

So, from this point the Clark campaign strategists had it very wrong. The basis of choice in the consumers mind was in a different place. Clark was very much like McCain. Compete on the basis of brand personality and trust. Safety. Obama (like Key) focused on the issues people were concerned about; economy etc.

With Clark, we have experiences, that is, a solid set of encounters upon which we can judge trust in the brand. Of course, we trust Clark. Trust also has meaning. I think the issue is that alot of people got to the point that they didn’t want to trust anymore. Rather, they wanted to switch brands and start to think about investing in trust in a new relationship. It is not an issue either of not wanting to trust Clark, Rather, the point of investment had ended.

Finally, Clark got it wrong in terms of listening to the public. Their researchers must be crap or so far up the clients *^(^% that they missed the messages. A homer moment but hey. The USA historically voted for change. So, the wave of change came. Clark should have predicted that. I have heard alot of ego stroking in the last few days but really. Did you not see that one coming? OK.

Key saw the change message. That is where the consumer is in their mind. Change will shape their decision process and “party set”. Then I ask the simple question. What is the fundamental nature of change? Many things but what dominates is that when people want change they have already accepted that change will bring many things including; risk.

To me, when consumers have a need for change and are willing to go through and accept the risk, it means that trust is not going to be a huge issue in their decision making process.

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