The brand-new Mitt

Among the higher hurdles that American marketing geniuses have tried (and failed) to leap were attempts to convince car buyers to drive the ultra-ugly Edsel, and to convince consumers that what they needed was a "New Coke." But now comes the marketing leap that even Superman couldn't clear: selling Mitt Romney as a warm, loose, down-to-earth, regular guy who cares most about America's working stiffs.

Among the higher hurdles that American marketing geniuses have tried (and failed) to leap were attempts to convince car buyers to drive the ultra-ugly Edsel, and to convince consumers that what they needed was a “New Coke.” But now comes the marketing leap that even Superman couldn’t clear: selling Mitt Romney as a warm, loose, down-to-earth, regular guy who cares most about America’s working stiffs.

Oops – take that back! Henceforth, do not ever let the word “stiff” be printed, uttered, or implied in the same sentence with Mitt’s name. That was the old Romney image, and it is now officially passé.

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The branding of the new, relaxed Romney is being unveiled throughout this week’s four-day Republican National Convention in Tampa. The stage itself – a $2.5 million structure of dark wood and warm tones that’s said to be the most intricate, market-tested piece of stagecraft ever designed – is meant to convey conviviality. Rather than an imposing podium, this one is only six feet high with swooping steps – carefully constructed to make the multimillionaire nominee appear close to the people and “approachable.”

Romney’s convention planner exults that, as a viewer, you’ll not have a sense that you’re “looking at a stage, you’re looking into someone’s living room.” Wow, maybe Mitt will be in his jammies – that would really say “relaxed!” The whole show is meant to be a bit of Oprah and a touch of Martha Stewart, with some MTV thrown in – which is somewhat disingenuous, for all three of those are fundamentally Democratic Party in spirit rather than Republican.

As jazzy and expensive as this remake is, I don’t see it selling. After all, Mitt is Mitt – an aloof, genetically-uptight child of privilege who’s been in the public eye for a decade. They can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse.

“A Careful Effort Seeks To Reveal A Real Romney,” The New York Times, August 20, 2012.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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