CAMPAIGN 2008 – With all the diversity in this presidential campaign, is there a Blue Ocean Strategy Candidate?

Barack Obama may have stumbled upon Blue Ocean Strategy’s number-one principle: Reconstruct Market Boundaries. Is he achieving that with new voters? Is he getting non-voters to register? How is the Obama campaign – or Clinton’s (that’s Hillary’s not Bill’s!) or Huckabee for that matter – breaking through the boundaries and changing the competitive factors? The interesting question is would he make a good President? Of course, as we saw with President Bush, only time will tell.

Obama has raised $32MM in January to Clinton’s $13MM. This allowed Obama to buy more advertising ad pay for other campaign costs. While buying more advertising can sometimes be effective, it is certainly not a blue ocean idea. Both numbers were lower after Super Tuesday, with Obama still outpacing Clinton in fund raising. Clinton still came out with a small lead in the polls.

Since the primaries, the fund raising has been nearly equal so the advantage was temporary. A Blue Ocean Strategy expert would say that the new voters may provide a temporary lead but, with fickle voters and aggressive competition, that lead is fragile at best…..and certainly not pure Blue Ocean.

Obama’s main mantra is “Change Has Come,” while Clinton says she is “Ready to Lead from Day One.” Are these taglines compelling and do they communicate value to the customer? Neither are very good, but at least Clinton’s tag line attempts to communicate value. That she doesn’t need a “How to be the President of a world power” seminar. I have no idea what Obama means by his tagline. Change has come to what? for whom? at what price?

The acid test for a Blue Ocean Idea is that it must have focus, it must diverge from the other players and it must have a compelling tagline. Do these slogans create a workable strategy to garner new voters? Or are they just the same old political promises made to look new?

The Democratic nomination may come down to an inexperienced baby-boomer senator seen as a transitional figure who is also African-American, running against a very politically savvy baby boomer who happens to be female. Just for starters, no matter your political disposition, it is pretty incredible that this country has matured to allow these two a place of honor in our competitive political process. Political leanings aside, I am proud we have come so far.

One of them will win the Democratic nomination. They will be probably running against a former POW, highly experienced, politically savvy, mature senator. When the curtain closes and you realize our safety, security, freedoms, economic future, and everything we believe in may be tested in the next four to eight years, who will get your vote? Think carefully, your life may depend on it.

So, to answer the question we started with “Do we have a Blue Ocean Strategy candidate? I would say not. If you put these candidates to the Blue Ocean acid test, I haven’t seen the focus, they haven’t broken from the competition and none of them have a compelling tagline.

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Posted by Dr. Sarah Layton in Blue Ocean Strategy, Growth, Strategic Planning on February 15, 2008.

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