OBAMA RAY-BANIZED: THE MAKING OF A MILLENNIAL VIRAL MASTERPIECE
Recently US President Obama embarked on a marketing effort aimed at encouraging Millennials to sign up for his signature healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act. The challenge was to cajole them into signing up for the plan in order to cross-subsidize older folks (which is vital for the long-term success of the program), while at the same time implying via a casual attitude that it was "no big deal" whether they did or not.
The centerpiece of this campaign was a BuzzFeed video called "Things Everybody Does But Doesn't Talk About" in which the President poses in ways that recall the typical social media posturing of Generation Y without appearing to pander to this all-important demographic (being born in 1961, Mr. Obama is barely even into Generation X himself).
Alternating between a tone of self-effacement and self-congratulation both so common to the Selfie generation, Obama and a Gen Y co-star make cheeky expressions, pout, stick out their tongues and practice speaking in front of the mirror, all while facing the petty tribulations and minor irritations of their pampered App-driven world.
Other than the mobile devices themselves, there is only one consumer product featured in the video. A seemingly "random" shot of President Obama trying on a pair of sunglasses, presumably to look cool and apparently pleased with the results. They look familiar at first glance, but the make and model is not immediately apparent to any but the most devoted fans of this particular maker, and, perhaps, fashionistas who are knowledgable about eyewear trends.
Because this just isn't any random pair of sunglasses. First of all, they are Ray-Bans. Ray-Ban is the global leader in premium eyewear market and by far the best-selling eyewear brand in the world, still largely perceived as a quintessentially American mid-priced brand that is both approachable and aspirational and very much preferred by Generation Y. So, for sure, the choice of Ray-Ban was anything but random.
But what about the model? Caravans? Why not the more recognizable Wayfarers or iconic Aviators? or even last season's super hip Signets? Of course, the initial answers are in the descriptors themselves: too recognizable (obvious), too iconic (me too), too hip (gotta go). No, Caravans are the choice that combines the best of the other three: a classic style that embodies much of the Ray-Ban heritage (worn by the King of Retro Cool Jon Hamm in his portrayal of 60s Mad Man Don Draper), traditional style cues such as understated, sturdy metal construction (the "new" favorite of perennial Ray-Ban icon Tom Cruise) and even hipper than the too-light and too-new Signets, Caravans are currently the model of choice for such relevant Gen Y pop culture figures as Taylor Lautner (Twilight films), Jared Leto (2014 academy award-winning actor/lead singer of 30 Seconds to Mars), Pharrell (song of the year 2014 "Happy" known as a fashion icon with his Vivienne Westwood hat) and Andrew Garfield (new young Spiderman).
So what does our President embody and project with Ray-Ban Caravans? As in the best of choices, it depends on the eye of the beholder. For those who claim not to "care about fashion labels" they are just one sturdy, cool, masculine, confident, understated pair of active yet sophisticated frames that are stylish without being too unusual looking. Perfect. For those who do care to some extent, they can probably guess that the brand is Ray-Ban and, since he's the President after all, one can be sure they are a premium model with all the goodies. And for those who do know about Caravans? The biggest win of all. The choice connotes attention to detail, a mastery of style and substance, and the confidence to make the best choice