Donald Trump. The man we love to hate. A bigot and a liar, a racist who is also sexist and a fraud. A man who has bilked thousands of innocent people. It goes on. I read one article that described the Trump effect as getting people stirred up to hate the government for their own failures. And when I look around at those very few people I know who support Trump, I have to agree. They are invariably white, poorly educated people with limited world views. What they don’t realize is that Donald isn’t prepared to fix anything. He can’t make America great again because he has the attention span of a gnat. He doesn’t listen or read. He’s pitifully ill-informed and hasn’t a platform upon which to stand.
Yet, you have to marvel that this horrible man has received what is estimated as $3B in free media spend, all the while making it perfectly clear that “I love watching these poor, pathetic people (pundits) on television working so hard and so seriously to try and figure me out. They can’t!”
Trump is breaking the rules
Trump has skillfully broken all the rules of politics and the way it’s being covered in the media. Trump is using a strategy based on lifestyle marketing. Lifestyle marketing uses emotion to create a sense of community and identity for a product or service. This type of marketing often resonates with a given target audience over a long period of time, rather than merely focusing on the specifics of a product.
Good examples of lifestyle marketing are Apple and iPhone ad campaigns
These must-have products are never marketed in a straightforward manner that explains their features. Rather, the benefit is how they connect with consumers’ sense of self and identity. They become status symbols; they’re tools that help users express their sense of self. Social media and other online technologies are essential outlets for a successful lifestyle marketing campaign because they transform consumers into active advocates for the brand.
Donald Trump is applying all of these concepts. He is leveraging for his target audience a chance for them to personally identify with him. His Make American Great Again slogan, T-shirts, posters and campaign signs all create a sense of community that is prefaced on white identity politics, and he uses reactionary conservatism to unite his public. Trump is extremely active on social media platforms such as Twitter.
Trump’s appeal isn’t based on his policies or expertise
His supporters’ enthusiasm for him is centered on how he stands up to political correctness, speaks for people like them, tells it like it is, is a television celebrity, rich and successful, is strong and will keep them safe—even though we all know it’s a bunch of hooey. Trump has always been rich—what does he know of struggle or the challenges of those who populate the lower income levels?
Trump’s supporters are finally members of an exclusive club
When it comes to Trump’s supporters, that everyone else hates Trump makes them all the more confident he’s their man. As one guy yelled when the TV showed a controversy over something Trump said: “You get them Donald! They been getting us forever.” Finally, these people are members of an exclusive club.
They people want respect because they haven’t just lost economically, but also socially. When they turn on the TV, they see their way of life being mocked and made fun of as nothing but uneducated white trash. With Trump, they are finding someone who gives them respect. He talks their language, addresses their concerns.
Trump’s ascendance to power in the Republican Party is an example of what happens when lifestyle marketing is applied to American politics. Trump is acting intentionally, with premeditation and according to a plan. There is nothing accidental about Trump’s lifestyle-marketing campaign of racism, bigotry, nativism and misogyny. Sadly, it seems to be working for him, if billions of dollars in free advertising is the barometer. Whether or not it helps him win the election is another story.