Obama- The Branded President

WARNING- This highly educational blog typed from my lounge room in between House of Cards and Mad Men contains many GIFs. Enjoy! 

We are nearly there everyone! After this post, only one more to go! This weeks riveting post (riveting is purely subjective) focuses on the brilliant article by Dr. Pamela Rutledge, How Obama Won the Social Media Battle in the 2012 Presidential Campaign. Rutledge presents a fantastic piece that explores the techniques, funding and tactics employed by the Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012, stating- “Not only was Obama the first African American to be elected president, but he was also the first presidential candidate to effectively use social media as a major campaign strategy” (Rutedge 2013).

Now, to the interesting bit. To display to you just how prominent Obama, his personality and brand factor is within the great yonder that is the social media universe; here is a collection of tantalisingly humorous Mr O gifs.

And I mean, the guy dances with Ellen. Ellen Degeneres PEOPLE! 

Ah, that was nice. Anyway, moving on now to the edumacational thingy. Dr. Pamela Rutledge is a director at the Media Psychology Research Centre who explores the psychological attachment we have to everything social media. Dr. Rutledge is critically acclaimed within her area for her in-depth research into human interactions with technology, a somwhat beneficial reassurance that her article is a good choice for this blog!

The articles purpose is for Rutledge, through her experience and knowledge, to explore the role of social media within the 2012 election, focusing on two main areas- voters usage of social media & the Obama campaigns establishment of the importance of social media and technology.

As Rutledge states- “An effective social media campaign is based on the psychology of social behaviours not the current technology.” This is key to understanding the impact and popularity of President Obama and his social media usage. In 2013, 69% of U.S. Adults identified using social media, a surge compared to the meager 37% in 2008. President Obama, as the article writes, is the first to use social media like “Kennedy was the first to use television.” This, naturally, draws in big numbers of the youth vote.

The article found that “youth that were politically active online were 2x more likely to vote than those who were not.” This is crucial to securing votes, which as the following image demonstrates, means a lot of resources must be poured into the social media machine. In the 2012 campaign, President Obama spend an amazing $47 million on social media, which includes such things as sponsored posts on Facebook, traffic redirection and targeting certain online demographics. Mr Romney meanwhile spent 10% of his revivals budget; proving indeed that money can indeed buy happiness- and votes.

Rutledge argues that by capitalizing on this, Obama is helping create a new form of participatory democracy, following the two-way communication model proposed by Lazersfeld and Katz in the 1950’s. This establishes word-of-mouth advertising for the candidates, with 30% of voters in 2012 identifying as being urged to vote by social media campaigns shared by family or friends. And the days of never openly discussing voting preferences are over; 22% of voters identified as posting their voting choice on social media for everyone to know- a percentage that is only going to continue to grow.

Thus, this blog post must come to an end, as I am going over my word limit (Thug Life, i know). However, it is important to remember the power that our generation has when it comes to social media and politics, and to remember the potential this has on the future of our lives, the world and history in particular.

Stay Classy UOW,



Rutlege, P 2013, How President Obama Won the Social Media Battle in the 2012 Presidential Campaign, mprcenter.org, accessed 15th April 2015 http://mprcenter.org/blog/2013/01/how-obama-won-the-social-media-battle-in-the-2012-presidential-campaign/

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