Is Hillary Clinton’s ‘Terrible Brand’ Hurting Her Campaign?

Hal Conick
Marketing News
Current average rating    
Key Takeaways
​What? Hillary Clinton may need to improve how she brands herself if she wants to win in 2016, according to Jaime Priesto, president of global brand management at Ogilvy & Mather.

So What? Hillary has forgot that "it's all about us, not her," Priesto said, thereby allowing Sanders to gain valuable ground in the 2016 primary. 

Now What? To beat Sanders and eventually Trump, Priesto believes Clinton will eventually have to return to a tone she used at the outset of her bid for the presidency. 

March 7, 2016

​​There may be an “I” in election, but that doesn’t mean presidential candidates should be keeping the focus on themselves

Jaime Prieto, president of global brand management at Ogilvy & Mather, writes for Forbes that Hillary Clinton has a “pretty good product, but a terrible brand.” Much of this is due to her self-centric branding, he believes. 

While Clinton kicked off her campaign strongly with her “Getting Started” announcement video, which is her most viewed video on YouTube 10 times over at 4.9 million, Prieto says that most of her recent speeches and slogans have been too focused on her. Clinton has lost her way since the start of the campaign, Prieto says, forgetting that “it’s all about us, not her.”

“Today, 10 months after her announcement, many of her speeches (New Hampshire), ads (Children), and campaign slogans (Hillary for America) are about ‘I’– she’s focusing on her product attributes, not benefits to voters,” Prieto writes. “As far back as 2008, she had a slogan ‘I’m in it to win it.’ What’s that got to do with anything?”

Her opponent for the Democratic nomination, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, has a brand that “makes supporters tear up with joy and prospects (you know, ‘undecideds’) sit up with curiosity,” according to Prieto. This may be, in part, due to how he has branded his campaign and language.

In speeches after the democratic primary in New Hampshire, Clinton used the words “we” or “us” 21 times, compared with 44 times for “I” or “me,” Prieto says. Sanders doubled up on his use of the inclusive “we” or “us”, using the words 54 times during his speech, compared to 26 for “I” or “me.” 

“Bernie makes it completely about the voters, why they should be upset, and what they’ll get from him,” Prieto says, adding that Sanders’ “deeply emotional and patriotic” messages have made his ads a viral success. One example, his “America” ad, currently has approximately 3.3 million YouTube views. This is 2.7 million more than any Clinton ad over the past 10 months.

While Prieto did not go into depth on the Republican side of the election, he noted that candidate Donald Trump is displaying his marketing prowess with his “Make American Great Again” slogan, offering a distinct point of view and message. This has helped separate his campaign from opponents with “more self-centered” slogans, such as “Jeb!”.

If Hilary wants to close out Sanders in the primary and compete against Trump, whom Prieto refers to as a “marketing ninja,” in the general election, she’ll need to return to a similar tone of “Getting Started” and ditch the more policy-centric messaging. Otherwise, we may all “Feel the Bern” come November. ​​

Author Bio:

Hal Conick
Hal Conick is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. He can be reached at or on Twitter at @HalConick.
Add A Comment :

Become a Member
Access our innovative members-only resources and tools to further your marketing practice.