Barack Obama, Tony Hsieh: two videos that make us better marketers


Barack Obama’s Nowruz Message

If you didn’t see Obama’s video message to Iran for Nowruz, check it out. It is a lesson in honesty, modesty, respect and hope. It’s also an example in how leaders, CEOs, even brands can communicate more creatively, whether they’re talking to customers, prospects or critics. Imagine if AIG’s CEO apologized to the public using a video like this, explained the legal interpretation of the bonuses and why AIG thought they might have to pay them, and then offered to have them withheld. Condemnation would turn into consideration, maybe even appreciation.

Consider what might have happened, or not happened, if the CEO of Motrin had got online immediately following the #MotrinMom backlash and explained the company’s intent, conveyed respect and appreciation for Moms’ points of view, and asked for help from the Mom community in shaping Motrin’s future messages? How good would that have been for Motrin’s business and reputation?

Oh, for a laugh, take a look at George W’s Nowruz message.

Tony Hsieh at SXSX

A second video worth watching is this one of Tony Hsieh’s (pronounced Shea) opening remarks at the Interactive program at this year’s SWXC. Tony isn’t messing around with social media for the sake of social media. It’s the entire strategy for his company, Zappos. “We’re not in the shoe business or the online business, we’re in the customer service business.”  The customer service business. Isn’t that the only business to be in?   As a result, Zappos puts all of its marketing dollars into customer service realizing that the value of a life long customer is worth more than anything, and that the most powerful way to convey the virtues of any brand is through word of mouth.  Zappo’s phone number is easily visible on its site. Zappo’s sales people don’t try to get you off the phone; they try to keep you on the phone. Zappos actually wants to talk to customers. That’s what you do when you get it.

I don’t care if you’re a CEO, a CMO, a marketer, a creative director or a PR counsel. Watch these two videos. Learn from them. You’ll become better. Agree? Other ideas to for how we can communicate better? Use the new power of social media? Leave your comments.

Tim Brunelle
Tim Brunelle


Barack's Nowruz message sure beats his bowling "joke" on Leno ( But you've got to take the good with the bad, right? No CEO is perfect. But more should follow Barack's and Tony's lead and simply get out there. Stop hiding. Be more transparent, more often.

I thought this site, dedicated to angry XM Sirius members, was revealing. How much does it take for a CEO, much less a CMO, to wake up and realize we're operating in different times?

Keep on pushing that message, Edward. I'm with you.


John Moore
John Moore

Agree that social and peer to peer is more critical than ever. Also, beleive that external paid media that is value based (vs interruption based) is a great complement to above!