The YouTube Primary


Direct Marketing Educational Foundation Case Study: Obama versus Clinton: The YouTube Primary, Written by John Deighton

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Authored by John Deighton, DMEF Board Member and

Harvard Business School Professor and Leora Kornfeld, Research Associate

New York, NY, February 20, 2009 — The Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (DMEF) today unveiled the “Obama versus Clinton: The YouTube Primary” case study, written by John Deighton, DMEF Board Member and Harvard Business School Professor, and Leora Kornfeld, Research Associate, on the “Direct@Work” section of its website.

The Deighton and Kornfeld case study explores the use of a range of direct and interactive marketing tools including websites, text messaging, social media, and social video in the Presidential Primary contest between Senators Obama and Clinton. The case study is supplemented by illustrative video material, providing a fact base from which to debate the design of Internet-based direct marketing.

“The differences between the use of direct media by the two campaigns were subtle but crucial to understanding the outcome,” said John Deighton, Harvard Business School Professor, DMEF Board Member, and author of the case study. “The primary campaign had much to teach educators and business executives. We are all students of this ever evolving craft.”

“The marketing paradigm has shifted, and at the center of this shift is marketing direct, as demonstrated by this insightful and timely case study offered by one of the academic leaders in this field,” said DMEF President Terri L. Bartlett. “In celebrating Professor Deighton’s and Ms. Kornfeld’s work, DMEF continues to deliver on our promise to be the go-to source for education and research resources, supporting education in the direct/interactive marketing field.

“Direct/interactive marketing is changing the landscape in so many different ways and on so many different levels. The Obama versus Clinton case study is just one current and highly relevant example of the power of direct,” continued Bartlett.

This Harvard case study chronicles the use of new media during the “Pre-Primary Campaigning” phase of March — December of 2007, all the way through the “Voting Phase” of January — June of 2008, as Obama’s campaign capitalized on their internet marketing strategy for fundraising, voter mobilization, and voter registration.

The study details the compelling rise of “The Marketing of Political Candidates” from the strategic marriage of database, direct mail, and telemarketing to today’s use of web sites, social networking, text messaging, and viral videos.

DMEF has made this case study, as well as a multitude of other information-rich materials, available to academics both nation- and worldwide.

Professor John Deighton is the Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, where he has been on the faculty since 1994. Deighton has served on the DMEF Board of Trustees and is an active authority on marketing and marketing communications, specifically direct and interactive marketing.

Deighton is the editor of the Journal of Consumer Research, founding co-editor and current editor emeritus of the Journal of Interactive Marketing ®, and a Trustee of the Marketing Science Institute. His research has received numerous commendations including the American Marketing Association’s “Best Article” Award and DMEF’s “Outstanding Educator” Award. He has published extensively on digital marketing tools and their transforming effect on the practice of marketing including cases on Dove,, Hilton, Snapple, and USA Today Online, to name a few.

To view the “Obama versus Clinton: The YouTube Primary” case study, please click here.

About Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (DMEF)

Headquartered in New York City, the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (DMEF) works to attract, educate, and place top college students in the business of direct/interactive marketing and, thereby, expanding and enriching the talent pool of trained, market-ready direct marketers. Established in 1966 by members of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) who wanted to give something back to the community, DMEF is today a separate, 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that is supported solely by tax-deductible contributions from individuals, companies, and regional clubs and associations. Funds raised go toward a broad range of world-class educational programs.

Since its founding, thousands of students have taken advantage of DMEF’s educational programs, entering the field with the competitive edge of being “workplace-ready.” Many have gone on to become today’s direct marketing leaders, an indication of the Foundation’s success. In addition, more than 1,800 professors have participated in DMEF programs. Thanks in significant part to the Foundation’s four decades of work, today approximately 255 colleges and universities offer courses in direct/interactive marketing, 31 of which now offer specific direct marketing degrees and certificate programs. For additional information about the DMEF, its mission, and its programs, visit