“Truck” Beats “Machine” in Massachusetts

by Holland-Mark | January 20, 2010

For those of you new to this blog, Holland-Mark’s branding approach is based on the observation that people have a tendency to boil things down to One Simple Thing™. We all do it, it’s part of our genetic code and an important adaptation to a world overrun by complexity.

We do this for brands (Coke = Real, BMW = Performance, Zappos = Service) and for just about everything else. We saw a potent example of One Simple Thing™ – or OST™ – thinking writ large last night in Massachusetts politics.

The truth is that comparatively few people met Scott Brown and Martha Coakley before yesterday’s election. Few closely followed press coverage of the two in the weeks leading up to the vote, and even fewer read their various position papers on the Web.

The vast majority of the 2.2 million votes cast yesterday were cast based on a single, simple distillation of what each candidate represented.

Martha chose her OST™ first, focusing on “Democrat,” which seemed like a sure bet for the seat vacated by Ted Kennedy, our beloved Lion of the Senate.

Scott Brown, though, chose a different OST™: “Truck.” Seriously. For those of you who don’t live here, Mr. Brown and his pickup truck were everywhere on Massachusetts media over the last few weeks, which for a long while made the Coakley team feel like this was going to be a cakewalk.

Well… it turns out that in an environment where voters feel Washington isn’t listening to them, “Truck” trumps “Democrat.” People like “Truck.” It’s solid. Populist. Dependable. When this began to become evident in the polls, the Coakley campaign tried to give Mr. Brown a new OST™: “Republican.” The Brown campaign countered by giving Ms. Coakley a new one as well: “Political Machine.” There was a shouting match for a while, in which Mr. Brown appears to have been more focused and effective, after which voters went to the polls ready to cast on the side of “Truck,” or “Machine.”

“Truck” won. By a lot. At least that’s how we see it.

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