Lessons from the Clinton / Trump debate on how to win new fans.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

While we are not political pundits, we did outline a few hypotheses going into last night’s Presidential Debate, as any self-respecting researcher is wont to do.

Our overarching hypothesis was each candidate will live up to their brand promise but the outcome will be inconclusive thus unlikely to sway voters.

Trump:  will play the Maverick archetype. He’ll try to start off calm but will quickly revert back to his comfort zone:  the blustering businessman maligning the old political establishment, passing lies off as truth in easy to swallow sound bites.

Clinton:  as the Sage she will quickly go on the offensive without looking it, showcase her qualifications and refusing to drop to his level.  But with the lack of emotional connection we’ve seen throughout the campaign.

So, how did we do? 

True to form Trump got flustered quickly, taking the bait each time.  But he knows his target.  His folks respond well to simple hollers of “stop stealing our jobs!” “The NRA loves me!” “I’m not racist, I built a club in Florida that doesn’t discriminate!” 

Clinton too knows her target, what with her 16-point lists to solving a problem (I tended to get lost around point 7) and Trump Up – Trickle Down economics.   She was composed but while she tried her darnedest to be easy going and likeable the result was lukewarm.

While Hillary may have won the debate, after nearly 2 hours of clichés and lack of fresh content we think both candidates failed to sway voters.

So the lesson to marketers, and Trump and Clinton for Round 2:  cover the standards, but for the love of fence-sitting voters, bring something fresh and exciting to change their impressions of you. 

Clinton may continue to suffer from her inability to connect emotionally with voters. But here’s the thing, most people don’t have a strong emotional bond with their brand of toilet paper, but they sure do want it to be effective when the pressure is on.