Brand management and relationship marketing in online environments
Authors: Lilleker, D.G. and Jackson, N.
The Obama 2008 campaign saw the Internet placed center stage in election campaigning; it was argued to be a game changer. Developing his techniques as a community organizer, his website provided numerous means for supporters to contribute to the campaign and become closer to the brand, part of a loose milieu around the campaign. Obama’s online campaign moved away from the purely transactional approach to campaigning, creating a desire for the product and encouraging the investment of hope (Dermody and Scullion 2001), to a more relational approach designed to involve supporters and build long-term loyalty (Jackson et al. 2012). The unique qualities of the Obama brand in 2008 facilitated building awareness, interest and enthusiasm around the campaign. However, the pressures of incumbency and disorganization at the center of the Democratic Party organization made victory in 2012 less than certain (Bai 2007). It was therefore necessary to re-engage with the online community, in particular the decentralized grassroots progressive movement. Only a relationship marketing approach would be able to connect together these groups and convert them into activists that could be harnessed to the campaign. This chapter analyzes this process, exploring the value of a relationship marketing strategy during election campaigns within candidate-centered systems.