Politics Aside, Here's What Marketers Can Learn From The Inauguration

Regardless of which aisle your seat sits in politics, this week’s inauguration events showcased a series of impressive marketing moves -- many of which remind us that every touchpoint in an experience creates a memorable impact.

I watched the precision of well-executed (and peaceful, thank goodness) ceremonies through the lens of both a proud American and a creatively curious marketer. We all know what and who’s trending following Wednesday’s auspicious event. Here, for those of us who live in Ad Land, are my takeaways on the marketing moments that mattered:

When you have your audience’s attention, don’t waste time. Look what happened in 30 minutes: We made history when we swore in our VP. We transitioned power to our new president. We sang along with Lady Gaga, J-Lo and Garth Brooks and we were forever lifted by the words and presence of Amanda Gorman. In less than an hour.  If only Zoom calls were that efficient -- and poetic!



Dress the room like everyone is watching.  Well, in this case, EVERYONE was. The “environmental branding” was masterful, with every detail and every camera angle and every drone shot capturing the majestic moment. We almost didn’t miss the crowds as our eyes were captivated by the beauty of the flags and our nation’s capital dressed in its finest. (A perfectly striking contrast to images from a mere two weeks ago.)

Color choices tell stories. Branding experts love to pontificate about consumers’ connections and aversions to certain hues in the color wheel. (I’ve been through many of these brand identity sessions and get lulled into believing the punch of Pantone red 2035 will double sales.)

Purple is now having its moment. We learned from the women who wore it so well this week -- with Vice President Kamala Harris a standout -- that purple is an intentional color choice. It signals unity and, in its boldness, it is meaningful and memorable. (For good measure, Gorman reminded us of the enduring stopping power of red, especially when it’s a Prada headband that only she could rock with such grace.)

Timing and tone are everything. Twitter handed the @POTUS keys to President Biden at 12:01PM on January 20. The Biden team prepared his Twitter followers for the handover with a simple tweet on Jan. 14, setting the tone for how he will use this platform as POTUS. The message was crafted to personify the brand of this administration, and, like any good marketer, with a straightforward call to action.  The first Tweet as @POTUS followed, right on brand.


Leverage the laughter.  Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for unintentionally and maybe not so unexpectedly showing us why we really do love the internet -- and why hysterical UGC and memes are the best antidotes for tough times.  For marketers who quickly hopped on the Bernie meme wagon, give it a rest.  Let funny people do their thing. 

Behind the staging, the speeches, the ceremony and the screens was a mighty team of messaging strategists, speechwriters, designers, communication pros, digital maestros, social gurus, producers and more. We may not know your names, but as colleagues, we know that what you delivered required a Herculean effort. Thanks for giving us quite a show. Take a bow.

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