Does Trump Deserve an Advertising Grand Prix at Cannes this Year?

The Obama campaign won two grand prix at the 2009 Cannes Advertising Festival for its phenomenal use of technology to target personalized messages to individuals at scale, and for spreading a message of grassroots change.

In office, Obama took a mostly prudent course through turbulent economic and political times, but what of Trump?

Does he too deserve advertising’s highest accolade for a stunning presidential campaign that shook up the establishment, re-wrote the rules of politicking and altered the electoral map?

Was his campaign brilliant? Malevolent? Purely accidental?

Perhaps it was all three.

Moral and ideological judgements aside — ad awards also go to arguably dodgy companies like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s — the Trump campaign— surely — must go down as one of the biggest marketing success stories of the year.

A Nobel Peace Prize for Trump? Not likely. An ad award? Absolutely! Why not?! Let’s put on Machiavellian blinkers and make the case.

The slogan first. ‘Make America Great Again.’ A great ad line if there ever was one.

A perfectly calibrated dog whistle that summoned forth a winning coalition of white nationalists, alt-right Internet trolls, the Klu Klux Klan and Rust Belt voters angry and frustrated by a post-industrial America ruled by job-stealing robots and politically correct technocrats.

Hillary’s tepid, self-serving slogan — ‘I’m With Her’ — by comparison condemned her candidacy.

Everything about Hillary was measured, pre-tested. She was so robot-like she personified the ‘evil’ of automation!

Trump was the anti-Hillary — and proxy Bernie.

His direct, anarchic approach — sidestepping the media by speaking unfiltered on Twitter — subverted political campaigning — and continues to subvert government.

A man of his times, Trump is a messy, monstrous manifestation of technology’s disruption of Western democracy and capitalism.

In this new reality, the men that are endangered are the middle men. Peer-to-peer technology is eliminating the need for many retailers who stand between producer and buyer.

The same dynamic is at play in politics, the media, advertising.

Major parties, big media outlets and agencies, watch out!

Establishment brands , too — branding itself being a kind of intermediary practice, an embellishment.

Hillary’s slick, polished TV ads and celebrity endorsers did her a disservice in a time of emboldened, hypercritical voters.

While Hillary stuck studiously to the script, Trump reveled in the new anarchy of the Internet. He was critic-proof because he was never a serious, conventional candidate.

He was — and is — a self-parody, and it’s his clownish disregard for convention that draws the crowds.

The moral hysteria over fake news and post-truth politics needs context. ‘Alternative facts’ aside, Trump represents a kick up the backside to the old gatekeepers, curators and editors of the ‘truth.’

It was the venerable New York Times that spread the lie of WMD that led to an illegal war.

So what do you think? Does Trump deserve Gold at Cannes this year?