Thursday, 5 June 2008

Barak Obama : The Promise of Change

When somebody makes a promise they are asking us to believe in the manifestation of some future event.
and the only way have of knowing if our faith has been misplaced or not is our experience of delivery on that promise.

As a result it is only in the moment of delivery that we ever find out if we have been gullible. In social relationships we are never more vulnerable to gullibility than on the promise of a change. Think about it...the errant lover 'I promise it'll never happen again', the workshy employee 'I promise I'll be here on time in future', the bad payer 'i promise the cheques is in the post' our lives are cut through with promises from 'if you are are good then I promise to take you to McDonald's through to 'if you are good I promise you a place in heaven'

In marketing management there is a model called the Promise Concept It is associated with the notion of Services Marketing and is made up of three elements that all need to come together for a promise to be upheld. These are:

Making the promise
Delivering the promise
Enabling the promise

Much of the criticism of tactical marketing stems from the fact that marketers are usually pretty good at making promises, you know, the stuff of dreams, and Obama has certainly done that! And, of course it is no mistake that his meta-message is a parody of Martin Luther Kings' famous speech. What really matters now is delivering and enabling and that's where real-politik comes in.

There are always real world constraints that conspire to break the promises we make. Capabilities, resources, time, ambitions of others etc.

Just how gullible American voters have been will only ever be known at the point of delivery, and then we'll see if Obama's promise is concept or reality


  1. The beauty of ambiguous promises is that it doesn't take much to convince others that the promise has been fulfilled. Likewise, when the negative consequences of changing things in the way BO proposes won't be devastating for a decade or two, it will be hard for the laymen to pinpoint the source.

  2. Absolutley! It is the delay between cause and effect inherent in any system that people frequently ignore.

    Another feature of social behaviour paraphrase Bloomfield & Vurdubakis...the way in which big ideas tend to erase the traces of their own construction, they take on a current reality and everyone forgets how they started.

  3. I guess it is now time for some substance to appear in this American election. Is anyone else worried about the outcome??