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Obama Hope poster

Obama Hope – 3 Election Lessons for Web Marketers

Artist Shepard Fairey hero image

Artist Shepard Fairey
created Obama Hope poster

See Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Project below

War Room Movie image

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy project hero imageTinker Tailor Soldier Spy
project below

Changes vs. More of the Same isn’t a lament, complaint or rant. Last night’s election has a lot to teach web marketers. The election focused several key digital marketing lessons including:

  • Change vs. More of the Same
  • It’s the ECONOMY Stupid
  • Habituation Happens so you must GAMIFY

Change vs More of the Same

I heard a wise man say every election is about change vs more of the same. The wise man was James Carville and his universal truth was shared in a 1993 movie by D. A Pennebaker. The War Room is worth a watch (or re-watch). Pass by the, “Where we really that young,” reaction and listen to the raging cajun James Carville riff on what makes elections – change vs more of the same and creating a movement others want to join.

The web is always moving. NOW is the only “time” online. Change vs more of the same is happening as you read this on your website. And movements are nets. Nets to catch sentiment direction and trends.

When you build a movement you tap universal truth, dreams, and aspirations. Trump understood James Carville’s lessons ironically. He created a movement and will be our next president.

The Economy Stupid

There are two economies in America. The information economy powered by faster processing, cheaper bits and bytes and fewer people is an anaconda. The snake waits for the less educated, and resourced people to breathe and then constricts a little more.

America’s promises, ideas and illusions are in a constant fight. Is America where the rich get richer and the doomed are…well doomed. Or is America the land of opportunity, promise, and enough a level paying field?

Do we MAKE things or are we lesser than our fathers and father’s father? What is an economy and who is it for? Is an economy a perpetual motion machine with little empathy, meaning and value other than it’s own uncaring movement? Can we imagine, create and discover more meaningful and purpose-driven lives?

These musings sound like one of the most influential posts I’ve read. David Amerland’s What If We Had A New Value System outlines our problamatic past and promise filled future. It’s a MUST READ for any digital marketer.

Habituation Happens

We habituation and forget. Hilary is married to the subject of James Carville’s, “Change vs more of the same”. How could she forget? Easy. If your a digital marketing pro you know how important P&G’s old “new and improved” riff is to your branding. New and happening NOW wins hearts, minds and loyalty online. Your message and website must be in constant motion.

Not hard to see who had the most empathy and listening in this election (where no one seemed to really listen all that much). Despite Trump’s bombast his ability to stay on, “It’s the economy stupid message” won the prize. Hilary’s wonky attempts to connect didn’t resonate. When your customers are in pain telling them you feel their pain isn’t as persuasive as being a “change agent”.

The only way we know to keep interest over time is to make your brand, content and website a game. Gamification taps our love of games, competition, and desire to benchmark. Benchmarking is often misunderstood or overlooked. Your customers love knowing how their actions, wish lists and desires compare to other “like them”. Trume, a billionaire who inherited wealth from is father, is seen as a hero of the working class. Why?

Because he played the “election game” better NOW than his opponent. Play the web marketing game better than your competitors. Listen, gamify and keep moving.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy Project

I love John Le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy and I live with several Shepard Fairey prints (Andre the Giant’s Obey and Jasper Johns). For an unknown reason, I decided to mash those two ideas together imaging Fairey as Tinker, Tailor, Soldier and Spy. Here is a list of ideas combined in each piece:


I combined Toulouse-Lautrec’s Moulin Rouge with an image of Fairey put through some filters. I liked Lautrec’s reds and yellows and wanted those in Tinker. Tinker is an antique word. We don’t have traveling metal smiths anymore. Today a “tinker” is someone who manipulates something to invent. The world is a tinker world these app filled days.


I had an image of Joseph Beuys Felt Suit put through similar filters. It seemed appropriate to combine Beuys and Fairey. Beuys work is harder to understand, harder to contextualize. Fairey is Warhol’s modern sibling. Beuys is more Duchamp’s brother. We live in nothing if not Duchampian and Warholian times so mashing Felt Suit into Fairey portrait worked for Tailor.


I shortened Soldier to “Sold” and mashed in a warrior’s camouflage. I’m not being critical of Fairey, but the need to “sell, sell, sell” oppresses art, artists and creates a false barometer for what is lasting, valuable and true. Read Damien Hirst and the Rise of the Artrepreneur for more on money, art and artist.


If we live in “tinker times” we live in “spy times” too. Spying’s shadow world may use new tools and have a museum in Washington but Le Carre’s enigma wrapped mysteries have never seemed more appropriate, prescient or descriptive. Graffitti art is like spying. Fairey is famous for skulking around a city, plotting where to plant his oversized printed paper and the typical “bombing” takes place in the middle of the night.

I purchased my first set of Fairey prints when he exhibited at Raleigh’s Lump gallery twenty years ago. I’ll never forget waking up to see Andre posters all over Chapel Hill. Curious I discovered Fairey’s work and purchased an Obey triptych.

Moulin Rouge by Lautrec image

Beuys Felt Suit image

Boys Beuys Felt Suit image

Hope Posterizer

I used an Obama Hope “posterizer” app to create the first pass at Tinker, Tailoer, Soldier, Spy. Seemed appropriate since Fairey’s Obama Hope poster feels strange after last night’s election. Find the app here: http://3dtopo.com/apps/hope/

Here’s more about the app:

Obama Hope Posterizer image

obama hope people

Obama poster app

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