Ex-Clinton Strategist Mark Penn: Democratic Hopefuls Are Too “Fuzzy-Wuzzy” – CES

Mark Penn, a former strategic adviser to President Invoice Clinton, after which Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential run, derided the advertising and marketing messages of the sector of 2020 Democratic candidates as too “fuzzy-wuzzy.”

Showing on a panel on politics and media at CES in Las Vegas, Penn defined that in his expertise as a pollster and strategists, he has discovered that there have to be “5 issues you possibly can clearly see or recall a couple of marketing campaign. Does it have a memorable theme or slogan? Does it have a narrative, a biographical story, that comes with its values? Does it have a transparent goal that it’s going after? Does it have a set of points that it actually stands upon? And, does it have edge in opposition to the competitors?”


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Donald Trump had all 5 of these aims coated in 2016, Penn mentioned. “Any grade-school scholar may have informed you: ‘Make America nice once more.’ Right here he was, a billionaire businessman who would sort things and take an unconventional view. He had points, clearly, in commerce, immigration, crime and taxes. Clearly, he had edge in opposition to the competitors, calling them ‘crooked’ every thing below the solar. And he had a goal: working-class America.”


For even probably the most profitable of the Democrats working to unseat Trump, against this, “no person’s bought greater than three” of the 5 objects on the guidelines, Penn mentioned. “They’re form of fuzzy-wuzzy. … They’re nonetheless in search of that home-run marketing campaign.”

Elaborating on the sector, which faces a significant take a look at this month on the Iowa caucuses, Penn continued, “No one’s bought slogans that anyone can keep in mind. No one’s actually speaking about them. There are a few folks with points, there’s some biographical info. [Joe] Biden’s bought his expertise as vice chairman. [Elizabeth] Warren’s getting her bio on the market a little bit bit, and I feel she’s bought her points, like Medicare for all. Bernie Sanders has his socialist positioning. Biden isn’t as clear on a few of the points.”

Being “fuzzy-wuzzy just isn’t good,” Penn added, “and that’s why there hasn’t been a whole lot of motion on this marketing campaign” because the months have gone on.

Final 12 months, Penn met with Trump to debate the impeachment effort and has voiced some views in latest months which have been seen as sympathetic to the president. Along with the Clintons, Penn has beforehand suggested former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Microsoft CEO Invoice Gates. He’s now president & managing companion of Stagwell Group and chairman & CEO of MDC Companions, whose operations embrace movie and TV analysis.

Becoming a member of Penn on the panel, which was moderated by Axios co-founder and government editor Mike Allen, was Rick Ridgeway, VP of Public Engagement at Patagonia. Ridgeway didn’t weigh in particularly on the 2020 race or media extra usually, however detailed the corporate’s efforts to stay true to its outdoor-sports roots by supporting environmental causes. “I don’t even name it ‘local weather change’ anymore,” he mentioned. “It’s local weather disaster.”

Given the setting on the gadget mecca of CES, the 45-minute session was surprisingly mild on tech discuss, by no means concerning subjects just like the position of social media in elections. However Penn did handle to work in a strikingly impassioned criticism about voice expertise and creations like Amazon’s Alexa. “Once you ask a bot to inform you the climate,” he groused, “you by no means know if it’s telling you the reply as info or as a result of it desires to promote you an umbrella.”

He urged the viewers to “ask robust questions” of Alexa, Siri and their ilk. “I at all times ask Alexa, ‘Are you male or feminine?’” Penn mentioned. Technically, he defined, Alexa “is an ‘it,’” however usually conceals its gender identification, which Penn described as being a part of an ominous strategy by giant tech corporations on the prowl for income.