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Basic Book Information
Marketer in Chief: How Each President Sold the American Idea
- HIS036000 HISTORY / United States / General
- BUS043000 BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Marketing / General
- BUS052000 BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Public Relations
- BUS002000 BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Advertising & Promotion
- United States History (General)
- Business / Marketing (General)
- Business / Advertising & Promotion
- Business / Research & Development
- Paperback: 360 pages (est.), IBSN 978-1-7370013-0-0, $24.99
- eBook: IBSN 978-1-7370013-1-7, $24.99
- Audiobook: 19.5 hours (est.), IBSN 978-1-7370013-2-4, $24.99
- *ISBN numbers purchased, but not assigned.
Publication Date & Edition
July 4, 2021, First Edition
- Findaway Voices
- Apple iTunes / iBooks
- Google Play
- Nook Press (Barnes & Noble)
- Author Website
Jason reconsiders the president’s role in American life – in fact, the entire idea of America as a nation – from a tantalizing and fresh perspective. He recasts the president as a brand manager of the American idea, much as Henry Ford shaped the development of the automobile, or as Steve Jobs introduced the world to the smartphone. No less than the Model T and the iPhone, America itself is an innovation in government and culture. Jason takes us on a wild ride through the lifecycle of America – from its first introduction, through its rapid growth, and finally, into its disruption and renewal. He reimagines Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase as a family board game. He solves the riddle of how Calvin Coolidge forged the link between religion and politics. And he shows us why Barack Obama’s presidency marked the end of the era of (human) soldiers.
Born from the wildly popular weekly blog in 2020, Marketer in Chief repackages presidential history in a way that’s more natural for American consumers – the average person might take a history course in high school or college, but they make a purchase every single day. It’s irreverent, occasionally foul mouthed, and surprisingly insightful. Who knows? Once Americans know how they’re being sold, they might demand a better product.
Jason Voiovich Biography
Author Biography (Short)
In a career that spans more than 25 years, Jason Voiovich has launched hundreds of new products – everything from medical devices, to virtual healthcare systems, to non-dairy consumer cheese, to next-generation alternatives to the dreaded “cone of shame” for pets, to sex aides for cows (really!). He’s a graduate of both the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota, and he has completed post-graduate studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. His formal training has been invaluable, but he credits his true success to growing up in a family of artists, immigrants, and entrepreneurs. They taught him how to carefully observe the world, see patterns before others notice them, and use those insights to create new innovations. History is Jason’s favorite way to observe the world. He believes the people from the past have plenty to teach us about the challenges and opportunities we face today.
Author Biography (Long)
My arrival in marketing started early. I was born into a family of artists, immigrants, and entrepreneurs. Frankly, it’s lucky I didn’t end up as a circus performer. I’m sure I would have fallen off the tightrope by now. My father was an advertising creative director. One grandfather manufactured the first disposable coffee filters in pre-Castro Cuba. Another grandfather invented the bazooka. A great-grandfather invented Neapolitan ice cream. I was destined to invent the first disposable ice cream grenade launcher, but the ice cream just kept melting!
I took bizarre ideas like those into the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, and the MIT Sloan School of Management. It should surprise no one that they are all embarrassed to have let me in.
I’ve launched hundreds of new products over a career that’s spanned more than 25 years – as an entrepreneur, product designer, advertising strategist, and executive – everything from medical devices, to virtual healthcare, to non-dairy consumer cheese, to next-generation alternatives to the dreaded “cone of shame” for pets, to sex aides for cows (really!).
The secret to my success has been a careful observation of the world around me – especially stories from history – that show me how others have solved challenges and created new opportunities. In Marketer in Chief, I’m sharing the insights I’ve gained from a comprehensive study of presidential history. In it, I recast the president as a brand manager of the American idea, much as Henry Ford shaped the development of the automobile, or as Steve Jobs introduced the world to the smartphone. If we want to solve our greatest challenges, we need to see the United States of America for what it is: An innovation in government and culture.
Past Media Appearances
Jason Voiovich’s media appearances include broadcast television, podcasts, and written journalism. You can find examples here.
Intriguing and innovative – Marketer in Chief: How Each President Sold the American Idea exemplifies both characteristics. In this volume, the professional marketer Jason Voiovich writing from his perspective offers a uniquely fresh approach to the history of American presidents. As an historian, I did not always agree with his reading of American history, but I always found the book fascinating. And I think most readers will have the same reaction.
. . .
I have always believed that anything and everything is a brand. Products, services, celebrities, cities, states, people. You name it. So of course I am absolutely fascinated by Jason Voiovich’s look at the United States as a brand and its Presidents as the chief marketers of the brand during their administrations. Brilliant. “Marketer in Chief” is a journey through history through the lens of marketing, which leaves this brand lover with stars in his eyes. Five stars.
I found this book to be interesting, well-researched, and informative. It presents U.S. Presidents and their accomplishments in a new perspective, and it is the perfect book in the era of podcasts where any question, response, and issue is on the table. It is the kind of book that will make American history come alive and gets the reader to rethink the evolution of the nation and where we are going.
This clever mash-up of history and marketing offers insights into both and proves there really is nothing new under the sun. A fresh angle on the “marketers” who’ve inhabited the White House.
Author Credentials and Contact Information
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Book Cover Images
Where did you come up with the idea for “Marketer in Chief?”
Studying history was something I enjoyed, and something I studied in college, but I never connected it to my professional life as a new product developer and advertising professional. The first place I saw the explicit connection between presidential history and marketing was the rise of cryptocurrencies in the early 2010s. Generating confidence in a new currency was precisely the challenge Washington and Hamilton faced in the first few months of the new Republic. We don’t tend to compare the U.S. Dollar to Bitcoin, but we should. They’re based on the same thing: Belief – a faith that you’ll be able to exchange one unit of currency for something of value in the future. In the early days of the United States, the future “full faith and credit” of the government was by no means a given! Once I started looking for common ground, I couldn’t help but find it.
Beginning the first week of January 2020, I researched, wrote, and published the first of 44 weekly essays – one on each president. Instead of focusing on names, dates, and places – or the standard eras and themes we learned in American history class – I chose to look at each president through my own stock in trade: Product development, persuasion, psychology, marketing strategy, storytelling, value signaling, audience segmentation, negotiation, and sales – or as one of my colleagues put it, how the president makes you feel. That approach allowed me to shine a light on stories we may never have learned, told in a way we were unlikely to hear anywhere else.
The blog became more popular than I could ever imagine, and the book was a natural next step to bring that perspective to a wider audience.
Isn’t marketing just advertising? Is this just a book about slogans and messages?
Think of advertising as the part of the iceberg you can see, and marketing as the part of the iceberg you can’t. They’re both important, but there is a lot below the surface of the water that most people don’t notice. That’s why the stories of the presidents as Marketer in Chief are so rich and interesting. Yes, the book talks about campaigns and messages – like Truman’s legendary come-from-behind win in the 1948 election or William Harrison’s “log cabin and hard cider” promotional campaign 100 years earlier. But we’ll also talk about Teddy Roosevelt’s creation of the National Park system as an act of sustainability, Andrew Jackson’s negotiation skills, and Barack Obama’s creation of a new type of warfare. See? Marketing is much more interesting than people give it credit for!
What is the “big idea” of the book?
This is much more than a book about how presidents used advertising and persuasion to their advantage. That plays a part, but it’s not the whole story – not by a long shot. We can think of the United States in the same way we think about any innovative product or service – because, frankly, it is! In 1776, the United States was very much like the first personal computer or the Model T. It was an innovation in government. There was nothing else like it in a world filled with military dictatorships, religious autocracies, and hereditary monarchies. Ever wonder why the words “self-evident” are included in the Declaration of Independence? It’s because they weren’t self-evident at all. If we think about the United States as an innovation, we can track its evolution like one as well – through its early days, into rapid growth, global dominance, stagnation, and (hopefully) its renewal. Each president faced unique challenges in selling us the “idea” of America through its lifecycle in the same way the Model T faced different challenges than a modern salesperson trying to get you to buy this year’s Mustang.
Who were the five best presidents from a marketing perspective? Who were the five worst?
- Calvin Coolidge: Along with advertising pioneer Bruce Barton, he invented the alliance between Evangelical Christianity, Business Leaders, and the Republican party – a playbook that’s been in use ever since.
- Harry Truman: His come-from-behind win is more than a case study about campaign strategy, it’s an object lesson in how to be honest with the American public.
- James Madison: Unlike the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 was the first time the United States fought as one nation and not a collection of states. Madison took advantage of that shared purpose to crystalize the new mindset of the United States of America.
- Ronald Reagan: He wasn’t known as the “the Great Communicator” for nothing. Even his opponents deeply respected his ability to shape the public debate in multiple areas.
- James Polk: Little known, but perhaps the most deeply consequential president, Polk goaded Mexico into war to capture territory and stretch America to the Pacific Ocean.
- Donald Trump: It’s easy to persuade people who already agree with you. If you can’t persuade those who don’t, you’re not a good marketer. Sorry, this judgement isn’t ideological, it’s practical. Trump missed nearly every opportunity to reach out to anyone other than his fan base.
- James Buchanan: The so-called “Bleeding Kansas” conflict was the last best chance to stop the Civil War before it started, but Buchanan could not see beyond narrow political objectives to try obvious practical solutions.
- Franklin Pierce: Cuba desperately wanted to become a state, and very nearly did. It was Pierce’s bumbling that ultimately scuttled those chances.
- Andrew Johnson: Unfortunately, the Civil War era did not produce many great presidents. As a Southerner who supported the Union, Johnson had every opportunity to bridge the gap between North and South, but he failed to do so.
- Jimmy Carter: Carter misread the mood of the country and the ferocity of opposing politicians in his “Crisis of Confidence” speech.
What advice would you give Joe Biden right now?
The “idea” of the United States needs a refresh – that’s obvious when you look at the growth (and stagnation) of the American idea. From a marketing and product development perspective, Biden has two choices: (1) Continue to squeeze the last remaining juice out of the old idea – like tweaking the engine in an F-150 to get just a little more fuel efficiency; or (2) Invest in something new – like creating a full-electric version of the same truck, and abandoning gasoline entirely. The first option is tempting because people are still buying that truck…but you know that its days are numbered. (Slow declines are sad to watch.) However, the second option isn’t a given – most new products fail. They’re all risky. The advice is simple: You can’t go backwards, but don’t put all your money on one bet – take multiple risks with the hope that at least a couple will pan out. Like all innovators, we need to get comfortable with failure in order to succeed, and that’s a tough sell with the American people used to winning.
Which president was a better marketer before he became president? Which became better after?
Better before: Herbert Hoover was an amazing person and leader – he (nearly single-handedly) created the vision of America as coming to the rescue when the rest of the world was in trouble. Had he been elected in 1920 instead of 1928, he likely would have been rated as one of the best presidents in history.
Better after: Jimmy Carter has been the most successful former president in history (to be fair, most former presidents didn’t live that long after leaving office). His work with charitable organizations and creating the image of America as a fundamentally decent place mirrors Hoover’s efforts.
Fun fact: They were both engineers by trade. Hmm. Maybe we need to consider electing more of them to higher office?
What’s the risk of being “too much” of a marketer as a politician?
We have plenty of politicians today who confuse “personal branding” with true marketing. Yes, marketing means promotion, but that’s only a part of it. As Steve Jobs said, true innovators ship products! You need to deliver the goods. Legislators such as Matt Gaetz, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Marjorie Green have been more interested in building a following than achieving legislative success. As a marketer, I know that any success getting attention is fleeting. It might feel good, but image-focused leaders aren’t truly innovating.
I’ve heard there’s profanity and foul language in the book. Why did you include that? Is it just to be provocative?
You’re damn right, there is! Those words aren’t there to be provocative, and frankly, there are a lot less of them than you might think. (I counted: 97 curse words in more than 184,000 words total. We can all handle 0.01%, can’t we?) What’s more important is the subject matter: Politics, of course, but also sex, drugs, alcohol abuse, religion, racism, sexism, classism, people with disabilities – in other words, the full spectrum of the American experience, both good and bad. Sometimes, a few curse words help express outwardly what people are thinking when they read! They make it enjoyable and entertaining, but more importantly, they make history real and relatable to people. That’s the purpose of the book. It’s not written for historians. It’s written for the rest of us.
What’s next after Marketer in Chief?
I’m toying with the idea of Marketer in Chief: Bishop of Rome – the story of how the Popes sold Christianity to the Western World. But first, I suspect I’ll address innovation strategies for the American idea – basically, a guidebook for the “American R&D lab” I think Joe Biden needs to be forming right now.
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Copyright 2021: Jaywalker Publishing – All Rights Reserved
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Copyright 2021: Jaywalker Publishing – All Rights Reserved
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