Remember the fun ol’ days of 2009? Newfangled hipster President, 60 Dem Senators, a tech resurgence that was never gonna end? And if things were looking rosy for America back then, there was one company in particular that had some of its most fertile years ever still ahead of it.
Here is the ad Apple was running for iPhones in 2009, a time when a mere 13 million people had ever purchased an iPhone.
By the end of the year, it’d be 34 million people. By the end of 2010, it’d be 74 million. I could go on, all the way up to 2015, the iPhone’s peak sales year (with a staggering 231 million units sold). This was the year that saw the rollout of the not-one-but-TWO most popular iPhones of all time, the 6 and the 6+.
I bring up this Early Days throwback to the Fruitly Giant’s resurgence because it’s clearly been a marketing model for a brand I’d like to see keep growing: Elizabeth Warren, who’s shopping a slogan about all of her wonktastic initiatives based on Apple’s app-centered ad campaigns.
The time for small ideas is over. Big problems call for big solutions. If we’re going to save our democracy, clean up the corruption in Washington, and build an economy that works for all of us, then we need big, structural changes. And yeah, I have a plan for that. pic.twitter.com/BZWSDBM1mA
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 2, 2019
Professor Bizzy is hoping to put her policy front and center: something you hear Bernie Sanders talk about frequently (recall “sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails”), but if we’re going head-to-head on who’s got the greatest policy command, you’ve got to give it to the Senator from Mass.
As a reminder: Warren (like Sanders) was not bred for Senate duty. She was a Harvard professor whose appeal for a comprehensive consumer protection program was rolled as high up the Washington Bureaucratic hill as possible and then unleashed when Obama created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was the first creation of an actually useful government agency since . . . I don’t know, Nixon’s EPA?
The great genius of the CFPB—a paradigm whose simple elegance we can track to Warren—was the way it imported the protections of one adversarial system (the courts) onto another (consumer capitalism). With the introduction of the CFPB, defrauded consumers who didn’t have the resources for a lawsuit now had the right to government-backed representation, which would attempt to claw back its citizen clients’ money from unethical operators. The CFPB’s mission is humble—simply restorative justice, to make consumers whole when companies bilk them—so naturally, it’s been thwarted at every turn by Republicans.
But restorative justice is the type of piecemeal, do-no-harm buzzphrase you might hear from a less audacious politician. Professor Biz’s campaign obviously takes things further, with initiatives to reform corporate governance practices, break up the FAANGs and fix Emmy-winning comedian Ashley Nicole Black’s relationship woes.
I’ve said this already: I can’t wait for America to give a sharp lady professor-type a spin in the bully pulpit. That could be just the smack in the ass this nuance-hating, tantrum-throwing, conspicuous-consuming sideshow of a country needs. I know some of y’all want “transformative” politicians like Obama or balloon-with-a-face-drawn-on-it Pete Buttigieg, but I am sorry to have to introduce you to a part of America’s story for which the “charismatic leader” is not the proper salve. America: you need a spanking, and Elizabeth Warren is who’s gonna give it to you. And like any good professor, she’s going to give you tough, proven, research-backed spankings.
And how does one shift the focus to the research-backed? How does one (excuse the corny businesspeak) “shift the paradigm?” By gelling together a nice slogan that puts front-and-center whatever aspect the candidate wants to focus on. Not Hillary’s candidate-centered “I’m With Her” (Why?) or the unity-focused “Stronger Together,” which I honestly am pretty sure the Clinton campaign ripped off from the 2015 Miami Dolphins.
Of course, if derivation was a crime, Warren would be just as prosecutable as Hillary—for that matter, I’m pretty sure Obama coined neither the phrase “fired up” nor “ready to go”—and ad execs have been spinning old content into new since the first ever Tuesday.
The big question about Warren’s “Plan”-centered campaign gambit: will anyone in the media or the national discourse actually engage with any of the plans on their merits?
Jacobin is the only outlet I’ve seen make any attempt.