What’s in a Name? Bad PR for Politicians.

2016: the year of single-name candidates.


With Donald Trump hurling his bad hair piece into the 2016 presidential candidate ring yesterday, America considered three points:

  • It takes a real tool to admit he’s “really rich” when he really just wants to be a man of the people.
  • Shouldn’t someone who has filed for bankruptcy four times seek counseling from the Secretary of Treasury instead of trying to lead it?
  • There are more talking heads in this presidential hopeful gaggle than a bowl of voodoo soup in Haiti.

Obviously, more than half of these vainglorious politicians will drop out after a New Hampshire-sized shellacking because “there can be only one.” And while America braces itself for the year-long battle to the White House, there’s a PR story that is largely going unnoticed.

Have you noticed the logos of a few legacy candidates? Rand (Paul), Hillary (Clinton), and Jeb (Bush) have all dropped their last name from political paraphernalia. Now this is politics, where everything is calculated and nothing goes without effort of the sound bite. But why? Worried about the PR skeletons of the past?

standwithrandFirst, you have Rand Paul, whose Dad is legendary as a maverick and, arguably, a loon. Ron Paul and his tirades are the things of YouTube legend.

Following a 40-year career in Congress (way too long) and a couple of failed bids for President (no chance), Ron Paul has drifted off into the sunset. And while America has been asked to “Stand with Rand,” he’s hoping all those memories will have a seat with his dad.

hillaryNext, we have former First Lady, Secretary of State and wearer of pantsuits Hillary Clinton. While she wants to be taken on the merit of her own political career, this is a country that waxes nostalgic and seems to be just as interested in  possible First Gentleman and former president, her husband Bill.

And so, we have no name — just a letter and an arrow. As in “Hey media. There’s nothing to see here. Just look that way!”

jebMost recently, we have the logo of John Ellis Bush, Jr. This guy has the double whammy — Dad and Brother. Yes, Jeb was a governor, but so was his brother. And therein lies the trap: but what did your brother do? Jeb wants to be his own man, and if he could go the way of Cher, Prince and Madonna, he almost certainly would.

He’s certainly trying; the exclamation point might as well say, “Stop asking me about my family.” Bush appears to be another four-letter word that Jeb is not allowed to say on TV.

This troika may be in a re-run of “Cheers” in which everybody knows their names, but they are hoping to move beyond the past and make a more lasting impression. It won’t work and deep down, they know it won’t work (flashy logos aside).

These three want America to know them on a first-name basis because that’s the friendly thing to do…when people aren’t talking about all those other first and last names behind their backs.

Publish date: June 17, 2015 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/whats-in-a-name-bad-pr-for-politicians/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT