Rebel to Reckless is a thin line
According to publisher HarperCollins, Sarah Palin's memoir sold 300,000 copies its first day, among the best openings ever for a nonfiction book. Pretty impressive considering it even topped first day sales of Hilary Clinton's 'Living History'.
Its only fair to assume that the Palin book will remain on the bestseller list for some time to come. To me, this is the 'real' launch of brand Palin. The earlier exposure of Palin to America and the rest of the world can at best be called an 'introduction'. One that didn't go down well with many. As much as well with many others.
Hence on, its a different ball game. This is Sarah Palin's 'blockbuster' entry into mainstream politics. Its bound to get tougher with greater scrutiny. And for Sarah Palin to come off it looking like a Presidential nominee, will require as much of managing perceptions as being who she really is.
Its best to remember that most judgements are made on perception. Not reality. Else, why did a community organiser get elected president? So its important Palin manages perceptions well. I for one, admire everything she stands for. But I don't make the voter population. Palin's connect with conservatives is pretty much established. Not so with fence-sitters who take time to make up their minds. To hit it off with them, one thing's crucial. Palin can be the 'anti-establishment rebel' (read, maverick) but must never get smeared as 'reckless'. Its a thin line between rebel and reckless. Rebels question Status Quo, which is good. Reckless on the other hand jeopardise status quo, which isn't acceptable. Voters would rather have status quo than put it to jeopardy, even if it means living with something that isn't hundred percent acceptable.
How Palin manages her image will depend on how carefully she chooses and manages her public engagements. Where and what she talks will be of utmost importance. Note that Obama got college going nitwits eating out of his hand simply through long-winding gas-bag talk that sounded like it was the heralding of universal nirvana. Of course, that isn't a recommendation. But Sarah will have to get her 'talks' right. Oprah was a good start. My gut tells me this time around Palin will be more cautious and choosy.
Certain business brands too hit public consumer spaces as mavericks. Which is very well. Because that gets them an audience. Take Nando's chicken based in South Africa, for example. Wacky and irreverent they elicit grins. Its worked for them. Contrast that with Brand Mike Tyson. It was his 'hell to high places' story that almost made him boxing legend. But then came the breakdown. Rebel turned reckless, even pathetic. And now, I am not sure if people care enough to even want to know how he's faring. Though I must add, the Oprah appearance with Holyfield may have helped.
Its a thin line from rebel to reckless. Maverick to rabid. Mass following requires brands stay on this side and not the other. For Sarah Palin, the test for the future will be one which requires she keeps the rebel tag alive without going too much 'rogue'.