The Incumbent Newcomer

11The title above is surely an oxymoron. If you’re not sure what an oxymoron is, we humbly suggest, in the words of the Queen:

Today is the day when US President Barack ‘Wish-I-Could-Use-My-Middle-Name’ Obama, the incumbent, takes on the incoming Governor Mitt Romney. While we can choose to focus on the billions of dollars and countless strategies employed in the media and in particular social media campaigns by these two men, we are using the illustration of the incumbent versus the challenger for a more local reason.

Over the past months of campaigning, President Obama’s campaign found itself having to switch from the 2008 campaign of ‘Change’ and ‘Hope’ to a more battered and bruised variation of ‘We have come too far to turn back now.’ This is typical political story of the challenger becoming the challenged and many campaigns flounder in an attempt to be the challenger to the throne that they already sit on. The campaign was also taken aback by not understanding their challenger in full. This was never more obvious than at the first debate when the President found himself at a loss for words or recoils, when Mitt Romney as it turned out, was not a fire-breathing dragon, but a studied and astute businessman with one hell of a debate prep team.

Yesterday, in a similiar turn of events, incumbent telecom giant of Trinidad and Tobago, TSTT, found its incumbent brand bmobile, fighting another battle, bruised, bloodied and largely beaten. Over the past few years, the challenger in the form of Irish telecom Digicel, has painted the cities and towns of Trinidad and Tobago RED; the national colour of the country, while in a twist of irony, bmobile bandied about in all green, the colour most associated with Ireland. At the very start of it, the Irish telecom entered a very hostile market, but one that was longing for free market competition. While largely portrayed initially as a poor man’s telecom service, that focused on inter-island rates and was thus beneficial more to the Caribbean expats found eking out an existence in the country, or students of the University of the West Indies; today’s Digicel is much more polished, and forward-thinking.

Today, the incumbent, who was beaten to the 4G race by the foreigner, launched 4G with a barrage of local celebrities and full page ads, and a strange all green insert that provided almost no information in one the daily newspapers. Meanwhile, Digicel was in the midst of the second week of a stunning new campaign, that featured young, beautiful and vibrant young people as such catchy personalities as ‘Amazing Texter’ and ‘Miss Twilight (late night talk) or Mr Money Bags (cash back) among others. This follows on the heels of Digicel’s sponsorship of the West Indies team and the stunning ‘Be Extraordinary’ campaign that encapsulated a stunning 4G launch with catchy video that reflected the spirit and colour of the islands. You can catch that video here:

The incumbent was beaten hands down in all forms of advertising.

Today, as US voters continue to elect their next President, much will also be decided. Digicel has proven that positive advertising reflective of one’s core values can indeed change people’s perceptions and opinions, and much the same, both US Presidential hopefuls have tried to do the same. Today, we will see which candidate had the edge in the advertising and in their core message. Much the same way President Obama now fights a battle as both challenger and incumbent, bmobile must find a way to return to form, and challenge the competition as if it was the first time; as if it was the challenger and had more to gain, than to lose.

– Huckleberry.

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