designing obama book

barack obama

there is a book about the design behind obama’s campaign.

i do not want to dispute that they did do good work. i have not seen much of it since i was in the states, but from what i have seen it was ok. not great, just ok, everything was done right and it did not disturb the overall business process (as it seems).

however i disagree that this is revolutionary and that it is a great success “because it was powered by small donations from supporters”.

working for politicians and big companies is mostly about selling what small and underground designers have done probably for years before. it is a basic sociology theory. its normal that experimental underground ideas and methods, by the time they reach levels like a presidential campaign, they have to be become super mainstream. otherwise they will never be accepted non-mainstream. if it is mainstream it means it was underground maybe 5-10 years sooner but it was tested, proven and accepted and ready to go to the next level.

with respect to creative directors of large accounts like obama’s campaign, please do not get carried away that you are revolutionary in your methods. what is revolutionary is sales and applying tested methods on large clients, this is probably very interesting. there is no revolution apart from management and sales. revolution is always in some small place far far away.

another thing is that this is not a design success but… obama is a democratic candidate after two most catastrophic republican mandates. obama is hardly a no body who made it – he is not an “american story”. he is part of the worlds biggest marketing machine. i understand why they always talk about usa political candidates like they came from nowhere and are guys just like we are… but they are not. they have unbelievable press and lobying machine behind them just to start with.

money is least useful to them because contacts these guys have are enough to change how countries look like. gathering donations is more of a marketing thing than a real need.

to say that this is amazing design success is kind of bizarre. to really test the effect of design we would need to take out all this power and popularity obama and his party already had by default.

their work might still be good, but in different ways. i think managing content production and making it consistent is definitely a creative management challenge. revolutionary? i doubt.

what i ask is: is it more sophisticated and creative than what some 20 year old girl is doing for a fast food stand in kazakhstan? we will never know. i would not assume these guys are revolutionary just because their client is big and won a competition there was no chance on loosing. it is much more challenging working in a market which has much more competitors, no budget and less awareness for content and design (less channels and time to consume it).

again, it will be interesting checking this book, but it already feels like a lot of bullshit.

so where are the really creative revolutionary guys now? search the map. probably where it is hardest to get results and probably totally opposite of what you might expect.