I was watching the weekend coverage of the president’s rally in Georgia and I noticed something, how great Kelly Loeffler looked. Not just in the conventional sense, she’s an attractive woman, but in the campaign sense.
Loeffler, accomplished businesswoman and with a husband who is the CEO of the firm that owns the New York Stock Exchange, is not exactly your typical Daisy Duke. But there she was at the rally clad in jeans (though they should have looked more worn), red down jacket, and trucker cap. She could have walked off the set of “Deliverance.” The contrast with the soberly attired president and others was striking and likely played well in Georgia. Thus, her campaign team knows what they’re doing. With her tremendous performance at the recent debate with Warnock, she could pull off this election.
Now, erudite voter, you are saying, who cares about the clothes? Look, government may be about policy but politics is marketing and only that. You sell a candidate like you sell corn flakes. As such, packaging matters.
Women have to look attractive, but not too attractive that they upset other women who may think they are only trading on their looks. Guys are more inclined to vote for a woman of any ideology who they want to sleep with. Men have to project gravitas, but also dynamism. Both have to be attired per the territory. As the saying goes, “When in Rome, wear a toga.” And it’s not just the clothes. The entire look is vital as well.
During my career as a political consultant I once had a client who was an attractive woman in her 50s. She looked her age and great. The campaign art department did a mock up for a proposed billboard that had, with expert use of Photoshop, taken twenty years off her face, which caused her husband to quip, “I have no idea who that is, but I’d do her.”
Campaign graphics can also be used in attack. I had a client who was running against another candidate who had a local reputation for serious carousing. So, in a TV attack ad we put subtle but unmistakable rings around his eyes and made his pupils look a tad bloodshot. Oh, we got fallout on the spot alright. But that only caused the underlying subject to be brought up, which was our main aim in the first place.
The president is excellent at campaign apparel and he has a superb tailor. Trump knows a simple dark suit that projects power and authority works for him. Very few presidents can get away with anything else. Reagan did, light brown suits, etc., because he had the Hollywood training to make it work for him in a sense of casual elegance. But remember Jimmy Carter’s cardigans? Yeah, that didn’t work. At all.