Staying on Message

It’s not hard to figure out my political leanings. I learned a long time ago as a journalist who tried my best to be unbiased — unlike today’s media — that acknowledging your own likes and dislikes allows you to compensate.

In fact, I taught a class on being unbiased. Back before Fox News and MSNBC even existed and journalists still pretended to be equal and balanced (prior to it being a slogan that lacks meaning), I encouraged future journalists to check their bias out before beginning the story.

“Who do you hate?” I’d start the class.

After silence for a moment, the college sophomores in 1991 would eventually pipe up with a few names, eventually naming some people. Universally, two names always topped the list: Hitler and Madonna. At the time, the Material Girl’s burning crosses and not-so-like-a-virgin music videos still inspired a love/hate dichotomy among the youth of America.

I then told the story of sitting down with a twentysomething Neo-Nazi skinhead who recruited others in South Florida where I’d worked the previous year. While I’d never meet Hitler, this was about as close as I’d get. He’d even tattooed the word “Skinhead” in Old English on the back of his neck so it was unmistakable. I calmly interviewed this man who spoke to “white power” and hated everyone else in the world.

My attempt on this blog isn’t to hide my bias, but it’s also not to export my bias either. With a little twist of professional observation, I like to give a perspective about what is happening in the news and how it relates to the marketing field.

Allow me now to express my deep admiration for the informal but incredibly robust marketing machine that makes up the conservative movement. Some might blame Fox News and a supposed morning e-mail that conveys the day’s talking points. But I’ve decided it’s deeper than that.

Listening to both conservative and progressive radio stations, but more my friends and family who are largely conservative as well. Many will be voting this cycle against their own social and economic interests under some fairly bizarre assumptions, none of which any one can point to something substantive. Moreover, if I were to ask today who people hate, I believe the results would likely be a Kardashians and Barack Obama.

On the way into work and on the way home, I listened to different radio hosts on progressive talk radio station Left on Sirius XM attempt to figure out with logic why people were voting the way they were. How could Democrats convince independents and socially liberal Republicans to sway left a little and vote with their head rather than their gut?

They can’t win. The progressives are fighting guts with logic, mind with heart. The two simply don’t mix. It’s as if we need a blind taste test to figure out what America really needs but until then, we like what’s red.

But the visceral is winning the election this year.

Sure the economic situation will drive a lot of votes, but anyone who takes a few minutes will realize this a global situation and the U.S. President can’t fix a global economic crisis of this magnitude in four years — or even eight, I’d dare suggest.

If I were in academia, I’d study the marketing strategy that Karl Rove and the other Republican elite orchestrated to turn the branding of “Hope” just four years ago that swept the first African-American into the highest office in the land and now threatens it with divisiveness and vague dislike. There’s a brilliance to this that I cannot help but admire. Bottle it and a company just might dominate a branding war of the future.

Could you imagine any company with faulty products and failed ideas to still have a dedicated consumer base?

That would be amazing.

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Michael Cheek

With more than 20 years of communication experience, Michael Cheek offers solid marketing expertise, especially in the digital frontier. He currently resides in Georgia but he's open to relocate anywhere the opportunities take him. Learn more at You can follow him on Twitter at and see more about his professional experience at Reach him via e-mail at

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