Amy Hartzler

Contributed by Amy Hartzler

October 16, 2012



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Empowerment Marketing and the Dark Arts in Tonight’s Debate

Those of us who love a great story are hoping to hear one — ideally two — tonight. We’ve been waiting patiently throughout this interminable election cycle for something more compelling than “They’re beating us at fundraising!” or “He’s failed! I’ll do better but provide no details!“

A good campaign story doesn’t just have a hero and a villain, conflict and resolution; and it doesn’t just stir us emotionally to get us to the polls.

The stories we want and need to hear invite us to participate in creating the better future we want. Beyond superficial entertainment or vilification, if we need to sacrifice, we should be asked to sacrifice. If we need to show up and make change happen in order to see that change happen, we should be asked to participate. And we should be inspired to believe it matters.

Tonight we’ll be looking for and tweeting examples of #empowermentmarketing from both candidates, where we’re addressed honestly and offered real opportunities to engage as a citizen. We’ll also be looking for examples of the #darkarts that stoke our fears (instead of our hopes), and make us feel inadequate and helpless.

In brief, definitions for these two terms:

#empowermentmarketing — Messages that position the audience or consumer as the hero of the story, and call that hero to act for a better world.

#darkarts — Messages that position the brand or campaign as the hero of the story, and the audience as the inadequate consumers who need to be saved.

As we watch the debate tonight, we’ll be grabbing sound bites from Obama and Romney and posting them on Twitter with these two hashtags. We’ll be as fair as we can, and we’d love to hear how you think the candidates are doing as you listen and watch, too. Looking forward to it!