Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Andrew Busch

Rights Information

© 2014 Abigail MIchaelsen


In 2008, President Barack Obama was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year, the first time a politician won such an award. While presidential candidates have always employed marketing tactics in order to communicate their platform and persuade voters to support them, candidate Obama’s marketing campaign completely revolutionized the field. Through an innovative marketing strategy, candidate Barack Obama transformed himself from a mere political unknown in 2004 to a worldwide sensation by the time the general election started in 2008. His calls for “hope and change” and “post-partisanship” captured the hearts of Americans frustrated with failed Bush policy and constant gridlock in Washington. His inspirational speeches and words inspired a nation ready for a fresh and modern leader prepared to tackle twenty-first century problems. And, his innovative use of online and social media tools allowed millions of supporters to easily get involved in the campaign, igniting a movement never seen before in American elections. This paper analyzes how Barack Obama transformed political campaign marketing, utilizing both traditional and new ways to communicate and engage with the masses. This is accomplished by first illustrating a general framework for political marketing. Then, I examine the history of political campaign marketing, with a special emphasis on how technology has transformed the field over time. Lastly, I analyze how online and social media tools helped Obama win the election and how the internet has transformed the nature of political elections.