In 1946, my grandmother, a Greek immigrant, ran for state house in Michigan. So, while Hillary Clinton may have put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, Margaret Cotsikas hammered in one of the first fissures. Her daughter, my mother, is now also an Arizona-based politician. As she prepares for her second campaign, her own mother's advice is never far from her mind — expensive campaigns and well-written speeches should never replace the value of a handshake and the importance of looking a potential supporter in the eye.
By the time you read this, the Democratic dust will have washed off the Denver streets and the Republicans will have handed back the keys to the Twin Cities. Though, as I write this, the Democratic convention is in full swing, and from my vantage point in Colorado, today's political world looks more Hollywood than handshakes. And, the closest anyone gets to eye contact is a close-up camera shot.
Jon Bond from Huffington Post said in an August blog, today's campaigns come down to branding. "Branding. The term itself is only about 15 years old, but it seems that we hear it everywhere now. And not just with respect to products…. Today, branding is applied to politicians, countries, celebrities and even real estate — have you seen Martha Stewart homes? The world has become much more complex, and with that complexity comes the need to organise information, which is what branding does so well."
Bond contends that the next president will be whoever can create a concise brand that everyone understands without too much effort. In other words, forget lengthy debates, forget manifestos for change — the best man wins with the best elevator speech.
When I spoke with David Seckman, president of the Natural Products Association, about writing a column on which presidential candidate might better serve this industry, he said it's less about the president and more about Congress because the natural-products and ingredients industry crosses into so many diverse territories, including science and policy for preventive medicine, health-care reform, regulation or deregulation, trade policies, and even the farm bill. Add to this that the industry is domestic and international, organic and biotech, and it's not difficult to see why a poll at the recent NBJ summit was decidedly split. When participants were asked about which candidate would better represent our industry, the answer was split right down the middle, one half for Obama, the other for McCain.
For this month's issue of Fi, we thought it appropriate to mix business with politics, because this issue's theme is branded ingredients. See which companies have perfected their branded-ingredient elevator speech, backed up by the promise of credible science.
To date, since I took this job in March, few of you have responded to my call out for opinions and comments on issues. This time, I hope you will weigh in on our website poll with your vote for the candidate that best suits your business needs (domestic or international) and add a comment to David Seckman's opinion column.
Above all — get out and vote.