Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Inside the Obama Campaign Slogan Selection Process

Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP photo
PPPS (Chicago)—President Obama officially launched his campaign for reelection last Saturday with a kickoff rally in Ohio and with the release of a new, bold fresh campaign slogan. 

We asked our Obama campaign reporter, Protester Pete, recently reassigned from covering the now-defunct Occupy Movement, to provide us with insight into the  presidential campaign slogan selection process.

Celebrating a mission accomplished in Chicago.

Pete spent the weeks prior to the official campaign launch embedded among the predominately young, pigment-challenged and non-Native American staff at the Obama Campaign Headquarters in Chicago. That's Pete in the lower right of this photo taken at the historic moment when the President appeared on screen to announce the winning slogan.

The Chicago celebration was the culmination of a grueling five-week marathon of brain storming sessions, staff retreats,  slogan chanting practices, voter focus group testings, and late night meetings involving visiting campaign advisers and interns. The campaign also solicited slogan ideas from outside supporters as part of an appeal for a $3 campaign donation sent out by Michelle Obama. The campaign  literally received tens of suggestions from this appeal and, after spell checking, these were added to the list of staff-generated ideas.

The campaign staff came up with an ingenious method for organizing and narrowing the list of potential slogans. After an initial paring down of the dozens of slogan ideas to the 64 most promising, the slogans were ranked and written on a giant NCAA-style bracket posted in the campaign conference room. At the end of each week the President would make his selections to cut the number of slogans in half using a special cell-phone app which could be accessed from anywhere: aboard Air Force One; on the golf course; or in the midst of a fundraising dinner.

With just a few days before the official campaign kickoff, and with pressure mounting to meet poster and sign printing deadlines, only four slogans remained. Protester Pete was able to obtain copies of the ready-to-be-printed versions of the "Final Four" slogans, each of which provides a unique perspective on the various themes considered for the national campaign.

Slogan submitted by Rush Limbaugh
The first of the final four slogans was one originally submitted by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Through focus group testing, it was determined that this slogan appealed to the conservatives, independents and so-called Reagan Democrats who regularly tune in to Limbaugh's show and who may form a critical voting block in a number of swing states. In the end, the President rejected this slogan because he would need to credit Limbaugh at the same time he will  be trying to shut down Limbaugh's show through an FCC enforcement action and pressure on advertisers.

Slogan submitted by Vladimir Putin
The second slogan was one suggested by the now, newly elected President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, who submitted it, along with a modest donation, on the campaign web site. The genius in this slogan is that it simultaneously reminds voters from other nations of the President's international reputation for nimbleness in negotiation, while also demonstrating to U.S. voters the President's willingness to work towards bi-partisan compromise with Congress soon after he is reelected. Unfortunately, this slogan did not rate very high in the trust category among the majority of focus group participants.

Slogan submitted by Citizen Pete
David Axelrod and Citizen Pete
The ultimate runner-up to the winning slogan was one submitted by an active supporter, Citizen Pete, who apparently also has a knack for messaging, including one recent message sent to the House Minority Leader.  In the end, none of the focus groups, or a majority of the campaign staff, deemed this slogan to be credible, despite the fact that it mirrors some of the stated goals of the administration posted on the White House web site. Rumor has it that this slogan was vigorously promoted by senior Campaign spokesman, David Axelrod. Our research indicates that Mr. Axelrod may be a close friend of Citizen Pete.

The final and winning slogan is actually a condensed version of the other three, boiled down to a single, forceful, actionable word - FORWARD.

The official Obama Reelection Campaign slogan.
Besides the obvious simplicity, this slogan conveys both movement and direction. And, despite focus group feedback indicating that the slogan held no real meaning and was confusing, the President astutely concluded that confusion was it's greatest asset, leaving him to weave in whatever meaning he chooses to convey to a particular audience.

The slogan can also be adapted into a chant for rallies, and is easily pronounced by temporary, undocumented campaign workers hired for street events and voter registration campaigns.

Well done Mr. President. We salute you!

UPDATE 10-May-2012: 

After reading the disappointing news about how close his suggested slogan came to being selected by the Obama campaign, Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently reacted in anger, pulling out of the upcoming G-8 Summit at Camp David and his scheduled meeting with President Obama next week. More later......See related story here.

UPDATE 11-May-2012 - Forward Defined - American Thinker


  1. I would have submitted the "Forward" version of the slogan printed backwards on a bumper sticker to be placed on the front of your vehicle-"drawroF". This way it is easily read when you fall behind in the polls or if you are driving behind Romney.

    1. Dave -

      What a wonderful idea. I suspect that the Obama campaign is searching for some new ideas right about now, so why don't you submit it to them.

      Feel free to say that Pundit Pete recommended it, which would ensure it gets the proper attention.

      Thanks for commenting and God bless.

  2. The bad thing is ... having the name Ward ... some of my more "progressive" friends actually think of me when they see this L(

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