PR and the Buffett Rule, Part I

September 21st, 2011

Our last blog post discussed the decidedly poor website brand President Obama’s 2012 campaign created to combat political attacks.  Since then, Obama announced his latest push to reduce the deficit, branded the “Buffett Rule” to reflect the venerable investor’s call to tax the very rich.

For the White House, this is a deft messaging move.  Many major policy proposals suffer from unwieldy, confusing names and labels.  Want to get quick headline traction and repetition amongst the chattering class?  Give people something they can quickly understand.

That’s exactly what the name “Buffett Rule” does – it immediately illustrates the inspiration behind the proposal, and makes it all about raising taxes on the rich.  Major polls already show broad support for the idea.  The new name just puts a nice ribbon on the political package.

Of course, there’s vigorous debate for and against Obama’s proposal, and the bigger question is whether the initiative has any teeth.  But, from the PR perspective it’s a bit beside the point.  The messaging advantage here is that if the Buffett Rule provides Obama a much-needed political boost, he regains leverage to push policy priorities that Republicans have so far outflanked him on this year.

We’ll revisit this item in a few weeks and see whether our prediction on this branding tactic has come through.

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