July 4 Quiz: Which Founding Father Was the Best Marketer?
July 4 means patriotic displays, parades, family barbecues, fireworks and a tip of the (three-cornered) hat to . . . marketing? You bet. Back in 1776, our Founding Fathers had to spread their message, “sell” their ideas and mobilize the colonists to continue the fight for independence from Great Britain.
So, just for fun, let’s take a look at the tactics used and consider how some of our country’s early Patriots could be viewed through a modern marketing lens. Which one would you rate as the best marketer? Here’s a list of my top contenders:
Thomas Jefferson. I see Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, as one of the first great content marketers. The second sentence of his preamble
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
is considered one of the best-known sentences in the English language. (I guess we could safely say his content went viral?)
John Hancock. Apparently, Hancock had a flair for the dramatic . . . and the visual. Legend has it that his large, distinctive signature on the Declaration of Independence was purposefully penned –so King George III could read it without putting on his spectacles. With this kind of courage and keen appreciation of the power of the visual user experience, I imagine Hancock leading the way with creative marketing approaches like enhanced website design, infographics and Pinterest.
Benjamin Franklin. Renowned as a statesman, political theorist, author, printer, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist and diplomat, Franklin would make a fantastic multi-channel marketer today. More than 200 years ago, he recognized the value of tearing down silos and integrating approaches across platforms. Of course, as a successful newspaper editor and printer, he also knew how to optimize available communication channels.
John Adams. Adams was the visionary of the group, so I see him as the best fit in the role of CMO. Back in early July, 1776, Adams realized the significance of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In a letter to his wife, he even envisioned future celebrations to commemorate the occasion:
The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.
Turns out, it took the Second Continental Congress two extra days to revise and then ratify the resolution, so ultimately Adams prediction was off by a hair. (All things considered, I’m sure the C-suite would accommodate the slight course correction required.)
Paul Revere. He didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence, but is there any doubt about what kind of marketer Paul Revere would be today? He’d be at the forefront of mobile marketing, of course!
Revere’s “Midnight Ride” through the countryside around Boston in April, 1775, alerted his fellow patriots about troop movements of the British Army and triggered deployment of the local militia units which ultimately repelled the British in the famous battles of Lexington and Concord. Obviously, Revere knew how important it is to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time –wherever they happen to be.
Let’s fast forward to July 4, 2012. I hope you were able to enjoy the holiday away from your desk . . . and I hope you are able to take a few moments to reflect on the men (and women!) who worked and sacrificed to win independence for the thirteen colonies that would become the United States of America.
Is it time for you to take a page from their playbook? After all, marketing is in the midst of a revolution now, too. Which of our Founding Fathers do you think would best handle the challenges confronting today’s marketers?
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