Clinton's Candidacy: An Established Brand A presidential campaign can often resemble a business, with each candidate acting as CEO. If this were the case, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign would be an "established brand" — one that has name recognition but struggles to seem fresh.
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Clinton's Candidacy: An Established Brand

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Clinton's Candidacy: An Established Brand

Clinton's Candidacy: An Established Brand

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Recently, we've been engaging in an exercise of the imagination. If the top three presidential campaigns were businesses, what kind of business would they be?

Today, we're taking a look at Hillary Clinton and her campaign.

NPR's Jeff Brady has our story.

JEFF BRADY: One of Hillary Clinton's advantages is name recognition. Since her husband was president for eight years, just about everyone knows the Clinton name. In marketing terms, it's an established brand similar to a famous snack food that's been around for a long time.

(Soundbite of Lay's Potato Chips ad)

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Just one Lay's potato chip makes you want much more.

BRADY: Hillary Clinton herself is not an established brand, says Susan Jung Grant, a marketing professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She says Clinton is more like an extension of her husband's established brand.

Professor SUSAN JUNG GRANT (Marketing, University of Colorado at Boulder): Perhaps Senator Clinton could be, you know, sour cream and chive potato chips. It's the idea that it's a little bit different from the main category.

BRADY: The established brand is familiar and lends credibility to its extension, says Jung Grant, but it also has some drawbacks. People can feel like they already know it and so they don't examine it closely, instead focusing on what's new in the marketplace. But Jung Grant says a little news can freshen up an established brand and its extensions. She says Clinton offered a perfect example of this during the New Hampshire primary.

Senator HILLARY CLINTON (Democrat, New York; Presidential Candidate): You know, this is very personal for me. It's not just political, it's not just public. I see what's happening, and we have to reverse it.

BRADY: That now-famous moment in a New Hampshire cafe where Clinton showed emotion helped voters see the candidate in a new light, says Jung Grant.

Prof. JUNG GRANT: It's telling us something a little bit deeper about the candidate that we didn't already know.

BRADY: Is there anything more to say about the potato chip comparison…

Prof. JUNG GRANT: I think the potato chip metaphor has had its day.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRADY: Instead, Jung Grant says, think about what happened to red wine after it was revealed there are health benefits to drinking it. Sales increased substantially because consumers had new information about an established product. More events like the one in New Hampshire could help Clinton, but Georgetown University professor of government Stephen Wayne says they're not likely to happen. He's studied Clinton's personality and says she's not much of a risk-taker.

Professor STEPHEN WAYNE (Government, Georgetown University): What Mrs. Clinton touts is her experiences. She's been there, she's acquired a toughness, she's a survivor. Survivors - people who have been hurt in the past - tend to be overly cautious.

BRADY: Wayne says bad experiences like leading that health care reform task force during her husband's administration have affected Clinton's management style. He says she doesn't always trust others to do as good a job as she will, so she has difficulty delegating authority.

Jim O'Toole agrees. He teaches at the University of Denver's business school.

Dr. JIM O'TOOLE (Professor of Business Ethics, University of Denver): Candidate Clinton says she will be a hands-on manager, that she wants to get down into the agencies and make sure that they're implementing the processes that her brain trust put together in the White House.

BRADY: Barack Obama is more of a hands-off manager, setting broad goals and easily delegating authority, says O'Toole. These differing management styles echo a debate that's been taking place at business schools about which is more effective. Clinton's hands-on model has been practiced by a lot of the biggest companies including Wal-Mart, says O'Toole, where Clinton was on the board of directors for six years.

Obama's management style reflects what's happening at technology start-up companies. And O'Toole says that could explain why Obama supporters skew younger than Clinton's.

Dr. O'TOOLE: Young people are comfortable with the flannel-shirted software CEOs. A lot of older people are more comfortable with the General Motors approach.

BRADY: Which style voters, or maybe superdelegates, prefer, we'll find out down the road. But like Lay's potato chips, Hillary Clinton is hoping the country wants more than just one Clinton.

(Soundbite of Lay's Potato Chips ad)

Unidentified Man: Nobody can eat just one.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) You can't eat just one Lay's…

BRADY: Jeff Brady, NPR News.

NORRIS: And if you're hungry for more than just potato chip metaphors, check out npr.org. At our Web site, you can watch a slideshow comparing the three leading candidates to cars, coffee and beer.

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