Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Branding Joe the Plumber

In catching up on some reading today I came across an article in AdAge about at team at Ketchum who were doing some fast thinking. While watching the last presidential debate, they began to twitch and twitter each time Mr. McCain invoked the now famous Joe. It just so happens that Ketchum works with Roto Rooter, and the gang running the "Disruptive Media Team" couldn't help but think Joe might just be a creative and disruptive branding tool. Despite their efforts, their Roto Rooter client wasn't quite sure the Joe story would stick. And it didn't help that Joe is not actually a certified plumber.

All this got me to thinking - have we (in the marketing and communications business) gone to far? Is any citizen with a yen to get politically involved a target for branding? Joe shows up at a rally and has a heart-to-heart with a political candidate. That gets exploited for political gain in ways Joe probably never imagined. And before you can warn the guy to duck - the brands come a calling.

I'm all for opportunistic communications, and smart brands immerse themselves in culture and current events - but in this case something is just not right. I can't quite put my finger on it - but it just feels like Ketchum was trying to push this one too far.

What do you think?

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