Have You Ever Wondered How Political Marketing Works?


Lest you think that politics is all about principled debate and right against wrong, think again.  Did you know that political parties market their candidates just like toothpaste?

I never thought much about how political parties and campaigns were like beverage salesmen or auto manufacturers unlike I met an amazing young man (at least from the perspective of my age) courtesy of my daughter.  Let me introduce you to Neil Bendle:


Neil is an assistant professor of marketing at the Richard Ivey School of Business, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. He has a PhD from  the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, an MBA at the Darden School of Business, University of Virginia and ancient history studies in England at Liverpool and Nottingham universities. He is also a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. His academic areas of interest are decision making, competitors,  and the dynamics of competition.

He brings a unique perspective to political marketing having served as the finance director of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom during part of Tony Blair’s administration.

I first took note of how Neil weaves decision making and marketing into the political process during the run up to the 2008 presidential election.  During the primaries, we would discuss the various candidates and their strengths and weaknesses.   Neil suggested that I should pay particular attention to how certain candidates behaved as their candidacy ebbed and flowed.

For example, if a candidate is perceived to be the front runner, his/her campaign strategy will be to attack the other party rather than opposing candidates in the primary.  Candidates who are not in front will attack the perceived front runner or other candidates whom they think are ahead of them in the polls rather than the other party.  Their postures flip as the polls indicated their relative status.  I am, however, simplifying a far more nuanced analysis.

As I watched that campaign season and subsequent ones unfold, Neil’s theories proved to be dead-on.  What Neil was doing was applying his theories of decision making and competitor analysis to the political process.  The candidate as dog food.

Earlier this year, Neil approached me with an idea.  He wanted to put together a fun booklet that discussed serious marketing concepts.  He envisioned a short book that looked at marketing economics and decision making from the perspective of toddlers.  He asked me to illustrate the book and the product is:


Neil also regularly writes about other aspects of marketing on his blog: Marketing Thought.  You should check it out.

His latest blog post is about “Surviving Paranoia.

Final note, Neil is also the father of two of the greatest granddaughters that any cartoonist could ever want.

After a highly …

successful run during which over 25,000 copies were downloaded, my partners, Gordon Ryan, Michael Wallace and I have decided to shelve our three volume thriller box, A Triple Thriller Threat, for the foreseeable future as we explore other activities.

This set explored the world of thrillers from entirely different, but equally exciting, webs of intrigue, deceit, murder, and mayhem.  Michael started off with a thriller set in the arcane world of antiquities and the schemes that brazen collectors wove to possess what was not rightfully theirs.  Gordon followed with a modern tale of political intrigue written as if it just might be happening at this very minute.  My story brought up the end of the set with a very realistic science fiction thriller that left the reader wondering if the story might actually be true.

In Michael Wallace’s State of Siege, Tess Burgess, an expert in medieval warfare, is building siege engines in France, while running a sting operation against collectors of stolen artifacts.  Obsessed with the collapse of civilization, Tess’ ex-fiancée Peter’s latest grandiose scheme is a simulated war, like a giant paintball match for billionaire survivalists, but with crossbows and catapults. He asks Tess if she is good enough to defend an actual castle against medieval siege engines. One of the world’s most notorious artifact collectors will be on hand with his own ideas.  With these participants, will the play war turn into the real thing?

Gordon Ryan’s State of Rebellion is a fast-paced political thriller that could have easily been lifted out of today’s news.  California is on the brink of secession, and those who oppose this drastic political maneuver are turning up dead.  Federal Agent Nicole Bentley is sent to discover what she can about the movement and meets up with Assemblyman and National Guard officer Daniel Rawlings, whose commitment to his country runs deep in his blood.  Resisting their mutual attraction, they uncover a plot devised by greedy men bent on taking power at any cost.  Nicole and Dan find themselves literally in the crossfire between secessionists and those who want to preserve the union.

In Falling Star, I take you on a journey from the abyss to the beautiful deserts of the American Southwest as his hero Mike Liu attempts to crack the secrets of huge mysterious objects buried deep in the ocean.  Unfortunately someone wants him dead and he must fight for his life.  On top of all this, Mike learns that a revered friend has died.  Will the death of Mike’s friend mean that the secrets of the enigmatic structures will remain forever buried in the silt and muck of the ocean deep?

If you missed the chance to get a copy of A Triple Thriller Threat, never fear as the individual volumes are still available through Amazon:

State of Rebellion (A Pug Connor Novel)

State of Siege

Falling Star (The Watchers)