Summary of Applebee's America

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  • Overview
  • Background
  • Concrete Examples


What do Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Applebee’s and Saddleback Church founder Rick Warren have in common? Their proponents have all used microtargeting to sell them to the American people. Political mavens Douglas B. Sosnik and Matthew J. Dowd have teamed up with journalist Ron Fournier to explain how two American presidential campaigns, a restaurant chain and a megachurch all identified potential customers and got them to turn out – whether to the polls, the pews, or the neighborhood bar and grill. While this book may seem somewhat dated in the wake of Barack Obama’s two highly sophisticated campaigns, it nevertheless offers a fascinating look at how pioneering politicians, businesspeople and preachers used microtargeting before 2008. getAbstract recommends it to marketing experts looking for a quick history on successful selling in an uncertain world.

About the Authors

Douglas B. Sosnik was on the Clinton White House staff. Matthew J. Dowd helped manage George W. Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns. Ron Fournier writes for the National Journal.



Going for the Gut

In the 1990s and early 2000s, two very different politicians – presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – discovered that Americans voted not with their pocketbooks or their policy positions but with their values. With the country undergoing massive change and with citizens feeling anxious, Clinton and Bush realized that, to win votes, they needed to speak to people’s “hearts, not their heads.” Instead of presenting potential supporters with a long list of policy positions, politicians had to reach voters by appearing to match their values. In short, both presidential candidates sought to make a “Gut Values Connection” with Americans. US political leaders can make this deep connection if – while being truly genuine – they can draw on Americans’ innate need for a sense of togetherness.

President Clinton employed the concept of Gut Values Connections in his 1996 campaign for re-election. After his rocky first term, victory was nowhere near assured. Therefore, his campaign team undertook four strategies:

  1. It polled voters’ “political attitudes, lifestyles, values and personality traits.”
  2. It developed guidelines for where to run ads...

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