There is one presidential campaign blog that is more youthful, fun, and entertaining than them all, and it cannot be found on the official McCain or the official Obama campaign websites. It is of course the 22 year old daughter of John McCain, Meghan.
Since the middle of 2007, she has been on the campaign trail with her father, documenting everything from her music choice, to the daily diet of the press corps, how much she admires her father and his politics.
While no one can deny the Obama campaign has gotten more attention as the “youth candidate,” the McCain Blogette is a unique example of an online brand mascot. The blog is technically unofficial, a political move of course. Meghan and a few of her friends go everywhere he father goes. They snap photos, do interviews, share videos, and comment on the campaign. But they are anything but strictly political. They choose to mix in the things they care about and undoubtedly what other youth are interested in reading about, such as fashion, pop culture, music, etc.
And while unofficial, the access the McCain Blogette has is unprecedented. The blog in itself documents a presidential campaign in more detail and from a more personal perspective than we have ever seen. While the blog does not allow comments, its traffic rank and passionate “viewer mail” proves that it strikes a cord with young voters. It brings youth to McCain’s efforts without him having to address the issue himself, representing the campaign’s brand in a new way.
What is the lesson here? Meghan has made herself into a brand mascot. This is in no way a negative term. The content and access her blog contains makes her the fun, youthful ambassador of the campaign.
McCain is obviously a real person and most likely just being herself, representing her real views. But whether she intends to or not, using her blog and the online buzz it has created, she is a model for a brand mascot that could be adapted to any brand, political or otherwise. A brand mascot can spread more easily online than a brand itself, because the web 2.0 internet is built for individuals to connect, for people to connect to personalities. Meghan is able to create profiles on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. and represent the McCain campaign in a different, yet complimentary way to the campaign’s larger brand.
Let’s give some other examples of how this could work for a business or organization. If you were a sports franchise (an easy example), you already have a real mascot most likely that you could shop through the web as a brand mascot with a real personality. Fans would have a feedback and connection loop that was lacking before, connecting to the mascot on social networking sites, reading the mascot’s blog, getting more out of their connection to the team. There are lots of fun possibilities exist with this direction.
The jump from McCain’s daughter to a sport’s team mascot is a leap, but the concept is the same. The brand mascot could be a real employee with a personal brand, a historical figure, a fake persona (see fake Steve Jobs), or any variation.
To use another sports example, the New York Yankees could easily spread the already famous lore of Steinbrenner by using him as a brand mascot. Give him a blog, give him a twitter account, and everything in between. Does he have time to write for all those channels of content? No. Put a marketing and PR team behind it, keep his personality intact, let him direct his rantings and media manipulation through these channels if he wants. Ghost writing is fine in this example. Be transparent about it, have fun with it. No one will care if it is really Steinbrenner or not as long as it is good content. Make it funny, entertaining, controversial. Engage.
As Internet Marketing expands, the creativity of every teenager at home with a business idea will begin to compete more and more with the largest brands of the world. Companies with existing or growing brand power can and should look for opportunities like this to reach out to their consumers in new, creative, and fun ways.