Who’s listening to the call to action?

The recent Republican and Democratic National Conventions (RNC/DNC) consumed much air time and resources for what were in essence three day infomercials. Did they advance the Romney and Obama brands and who, if anyone won?

Some data are suggestive. Nielsen estimates that Romney’s acceptance speech had 30.3 million viewers vs. 35.7 million for Obama’s. The DNC also garnered more Twitter and Facebook mentions than the RNC. So Democrats had a bit more reach, but to what effect? After the speeches were over and the balloons deflated, did either party gain uncommitted voters?

The Conventions no longer choose the candidates and so offered neither drama, suspense, or surprise. This is a competitive disadvantage for Romney as a newer and less familiar product. Both parties, but especially the Republicans have benefited from unprecedented funding. While this could be an advantage, it has resulted in a series of disparate messages without a unifying theme.

If we try to distill the value proposition, positioning, big idea, or packaging – we, and such voters who are in play, have a hard time. Neither side seems able to resist adding disparate benefits into the mix. From a content analysis of such Romney and Obama collateral, as were easily available we get distinct, though not distinctive messages.

For Romney it’s his banner phrase “Americans deserve more jobs and more take-home pay, or “I’m a mom for Mitt,” or “We believe in America,” or “We built America” and its cousin “Built by US.” These are anodyne to the point of being soggy. Only the last has bumper sticker potential, whatever it might mean.

In 2008, Obama hit the sweet spot with “Hope” and “Yes We Can.” This has been vitiated with the liked of “We don’t turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up.” [homepage banner 9/7] and “Forward.”

Neither campaign has yet articulated a theme, which moves undecided voters.

The content from speeches to web is professionally written. That’s the problem. As Elmore Leonard observed:

“If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”