Bimbo Banter

Rubi-NO: Consistency is key in image and messaging

  • Trends
  • March 18, 2016
  • by Sally Ann Rivera

Now that Marco Rubio has ended his campaign, commentators are rushing to recount what went wrong. The writing was on the wall well before Rubio delivered his honorable speech Tuesday night.

But what can communicators learn from the (imagined) rise and fall of Rubio?

1. Visuals matter: as Rubio continued to tank in the polls and delegate counts, the graphics across social media contrasted starkly with the #MARCOmentum he tried to spread.

​Political correspondent Byron York tweeted this picture of an empty stadium during a Rubio rally: 

Following the Michigan primary results, Michigan Campaign Finance tweeted this graph:

The results of all that spending? Rubio received zero delegates.

2. Create a consistent message:  Rubio ran a Snapchat-heavy campaign. He spiced up his snaps with words like “Ru(BAE)o” to connect to younger audiences but then lost them when he spent time at debates focused on Reagan. On Snapchat, he either completely missed or went over the heads of older voters; during the debates, he spoke to younger voters about someone they learned about only in history class. (Some context:  the youngest voters who could have ever cast a ballot for President Reagan are now 50—Baby Boomers.)

Rubio effectively split himself in two and lost his message along the way. Was he the Republican Obama or Reagan Resurrected? Instead of finding a message that would resonate across demographics, he tried to be two things at once and ended up muddying the issue.

3. Put numbers into context:  Rubio took heat for celebrating 3rd place as if it were a victory in Iowa. While commentators laughed about how Super Tuesday would probably show Rubio losing but speaking like he won, what he needed was to show voters better context:  statistics about who has won Iowa in previous election cycles, comparisons of delegate counts for other states. Yet again, voters saw a disconnect between Rubio’s message and reality, or at least perceived reality.

Most of all, Rubio taught us what happens when you lose your authenticity. The man who began his campaign with football videos and laughing at his own bottled water habit, tried to turn serious, then petty. In the end, he lost it all, but maybe he found himself again. Rubio has a compelling story and has been quite successful. We doubt this is the last we’ll hear from him--even if it's no longer in the political arena.

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