Contrary to Donald Trump’s grand expectations for the Tulsa Rally, the event turned out to be a dud. From the 1 million RSVPs Trump claimed to have received for the event, just under 6,200 people turned up in this highly-marketed mass gathering at the Bank of Oklahoma Center. What will this imply for Trump’s popularity narrative and his presidential campaign as a whole? How will this affect Trump’s image of strength and popularity among his supporters? Bill Stierle and Tom talk at length about how this flop has affected Trump’s marketing campaign and what Joe Biden’s camp can do to capitalize on it. Listen as they analyze Trump’s camp’s attempts to repurchase the truth to their advantage and how these will ultimately fail to prevent the truth from seeing the light of day.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Truth And The Trump Tulsa Rally
For all of you regular readers, we want to acknowledge that in our last episode, we did set up that we would be talking about truth and healing in our next episode. We decided that current events have demanded that we talk about something else, but we are going to get back to truth and healing in an upcoming episode. Stay tuned for that. We will get there. The thing is we have to talk about truth and the rally in Oklahoma. There’s so much to talk about here on both sides of this event with regards to truth and purchasing truth. Bill, thanks for suggesting that. Why don’t you help lead us down this path?We live in a brave new world where the truth gets saturated. Click To Tweet
This one’s a big one here. This is a big thing about communication, Tom. We lean our elbow on the show about how messaging and communications use and what motivates people to do things and not do things, how ra-ra is only going to get you so far, and what gets people moving from the inside. Here we have a wonderful case of an expectation being set, a momentum being built, the promise of this million people showing the belief that a million people are going to show, or 800,000 or 700,000 or something.
They claim they had a million RSVPs to this event. They expected well over 100,000 people as what they were saying to show up. If you had a million RSVPs thinking 10% might show up, even if you’re wrong, if 5% show up, you’ve got an arena. They can only hold barely 2%. They thought they’re going to have an overflowing arena.
Thank you for that because that assumption, that baiting, that general expectation of marketing numbers, “One percent is this,” they didn’t think they were going to get a point percentage to show up out of the million people. It’s unsettling and that allowed the truth to be purchased by the people. The people purchase truth. It’s something we’ve talked about in other episodes, Tom. It’s called 100-drummer syndrome. If you get 100 drummers moving against you, the giant could be tricked easily, and this is a correct example. That episode, we even did two episodes on Tricking the Giant part 1 and part 2. It’s like you trick the giant. The giants are big, dumb, and slow and they could step on you. You got to watch them a little bit and Donald Trump is a bit of a giant. They’re easily tricked and hijacked to get the message to be carried. Also, if you trick the giant, he will walk in the wrong direction.
That’s a great example of where the 100 drummers said, “We’re coming this way and we’re not going to let you sleep.” That’s a part of Black Lives Matter. “Until we get this change, you better carry us to where we want to go, not to where you want to go.” To do meaningful police reform, if Donald Trump were to pivot and go into complete reconstructions and set up guidelines for police reform, all of a sudden people say, “He’s doing something for civil rights.” He doesn’t have that mindset or that bandwidth to do something in that direction. The assumption is that the police are with him and he doesn’t want to upset those people by taking a strong stance. This is a big thing to only have a 1/3 or 2/3 of the place filled.
It was less than 1/3. The arena holds 19,000-person capacities and they have 6,200 people attend. Here’s the thing. We need to try to look at this whole event for what transpired leading up to it. The Donald Trump marketing machine, we’ve always been quick to give Donald Trump credit as a brilliant marketer. This guy creates the sizzle, doesn’t he? His machine, if you read various different reports, the campaign said, “The President’s mood has been down and a lot of things are not going well. Coronavirus cases keep going up. He’s got a couple of Supreme Court decisions not go his way. He’s had not a good news month leading up to this where he’s feeling like, “I’m not getting the recognition that I believe I should get. I’m not getting the acknowledgment.” His need for self-worth wasn’t being met.
You could read between the lines of what the quotes of his campaign staff and surrogates were saying that he needed a rally so he could get reenergized for the campaign, raise his mood, and get him wanting to fight for the presidency again, to reelect. They come up with this idea of a rally in a red state where they could fill an arena. They strategically chose Oklahoma, which is a red state, and a 19,000-person arena. They figured they could fill that.
From the outside looking in, you got all people saying, “We’ve still got a pandemic going on. Does that make sense to bring all those people together in a way that you can’t be socially-distanced? Are they going to wear masks? How are you going to protect them?” This is also coming off of remember there was news about how the Republican National Convention was supposed to be in Charlotte, but the Charlotte mayor was saying, “What is the campaign going to do to protect the people and have them social distance?” The Donald Trump campaign said, “If you’re not going to let us pack that arena, we may take the convention elsewhere.” This is what they’re doing. There was a lot of news that wasn’t gone their way. They’re going to have this rally. Didn’t the Donald Trump market machine make it feel like there was momentum going into this rally that it was going to be packed?
I thought so. I thought that they would have had the shots that they needed. They could have spun the belief of even if he fills the arena, they can make up a story about the overflow and get away with it because they’ve done that before. They’ve said, “There were all these people there.” The media is going like, “Here’s a picture of that. There’s nobody standing outside.” There are these people inside, but there are no people standing outside. Now they not only didn’t have the people standing outside, but there weren’t the people inside. It was difficult for trust. Truth and trust are a little bit finicky. You’ve got to get them to work with each other and create the illusion that your product or service has value.For what it’s worth, Donald Trump and his people are undeniably brilliant marketers. Click To Tweet
If there isn’t truth or trust there, the whole ability to reboot a marketing campaign because the numbers aren’t there, it’s hard so the product’s got to die. Ask any soda company like Pepsi, the new Coke, Crystal Pepsi, or whatever, all the different ways to market sugar water. They’ve tried all those different things. As soon as those things didn’t take off, they dropped the brand. They dropped the product could go back to, “We have Pepsi.” It clicks back to, “How can we create another marketing effort around Pepsi and have people doing Pepsi” Mountain Dew, you can only go so far with crazy Mountain Dew people to tell us to go like, “Half of it is sugar.” The challenge that we have as marketers and salespeople is that as soon as the truth gets a crank in it, trust gets a crank in it too. I don’t trust. All of a sudden, he’s starting to lose trust.
The next time he says, “The crowds here at this event are going to be unbelievable. We’re going to have the biggest crowd ever,” people are going to say, “Like Oklahoma?”
Even if he fills a place, it’s going to be, “You sold us on it last time. A lot of people are not with you. There is this number that’s with you, but most people are not with you. I’m not sure if I want to be with you because I’m not sure if you’re a winner and I don’t want to be with a not winner.” That’s the rub on it. To the credit of human beings and the 100 drummers is there was a counter social media push that affected that. You and I were talking a little bit about that counter-media push that made them believe that there were about a million people signed up.
This was brilliant. When you think about it, the Donald Trump campaign had truth purchased away from them and they didn’t even know it going into this rally because there’s this large community on Twitter and TikTok, these different social media platforms of K-pop fans. K-pop is Korean pop music. Bill, this was the equivalent of what you were saying in the 100 drummers and tricking the giant analogy. They’re a large social media community. What they did was they put out the word through Twitter and Twitch, and these different social media platforms to have as many of their followers as they could get to go to the website for the rally in Oklahoma on the Republican National Committee campaign. I guess the Donald Trump campaign didn’t say RSVP to the event and say that they were going to the event even though none of them were going to go.
A ton of these people are in Korea, another country. They go and fill in an RSVP. When the Donald Trump campaign, Donald Trump surrogates and Donald Trump himself leading up to this event are saying, “We have had over a million RSVPs.” That was a truthful statement that they did have a million RSVPs, but what they didn’t have was a mechanism to have certainty that those are either Donald Trump supporters or Republicans in any way or people that are even in the United States. They had this number that there are over a million RSVPs. They had this belief that they’re going to more than pack this. In fact, so much going to overflow this arena that hey built a stage outside the arena for an overflow crowd so that Donald Trump and Mike Pence can speak to them in advance of the rally. This truth got purchased away from the Donald Trump campaign and punked them in a way of believing that this was going to be a huge event.
All the Donald Trump surrogates, they bought into it and they amplified that message. Talk about being set up in a way. The proportionality of how many RSVPs there were, the number they received to how many were actual people who would maybe legitimately want to go, that proportionality was already different. You had the amplification of the Donald Trump media and marketing machine creating the sizzle on that. It amplified this message. I believed myself that Oklahoma was going to be overrun. There wouldn’t be a hotel room available. There’ll be people camping out on the streets who wanted to be the first people into the arena. They’re probably disappointed that they didn’t need to do that to get into the arena. The messaging, this was marketed brilliantly like you’d expect the Donald Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself to market something. That wasn’t a surprise.
They were demonstrating loyalty, respect, recognition, and acknowledgment. Even self-worth for the president to say, “There are almost a million people that signed up. I’m a good person. Look at how many people still like me there. They’re willing to risk their lives to attend. They’re showing up for that.” It’s like, “There are not that many people that are willing to do that. The drummers are not with me anymore.” They used to have them, but they went someplace else. “They’re not trusting me as much. They’re not believing my promotion of my version of the truth which is, ‘It’s all going to go away and you’re going to be safe and I’m not wearing a mask.’” It’s hard.
Let’s talk about the truth, Bill, where you were going, because there are a couple of things that threatened to knock this event off of its course running up to it. One is the fact that they originally scheduled it for June 19th, which is Juneteenth. That was ill-considered that the date that they were going to hold this rally was disrespectful to the African-American community and especially in opposition to all the Black Lives Matter protests and everything that’s been going on around this country. They were forced to move the date from June 19th to June 20th. They spun that as, “We have respect for Black Lives Matter, for Juneteenth, for this important day. We’re going to do it on a different day.” There are a few signs. I wonder if they ignored and didn’t consider the weight of them because the next thing that happened is it comes out that the Donald Trump campaign is making people that get tickets sign a waiver.
The waiver was a big thing because of the pandemic piece. That affected truth and trust.
It did in a bigger way than the Donald Trump campaign believed.
That one was true because notice how the need for safety, care or consideration it’s like, “Soldier, I’m going to send you out, but I’m not going to give you back up. I’m not going to do what I promised you.” The challenge is that as soon as you are selling something bigger than what it is, there’s more sizzle than there is steak. There is a loss inside the psychology of the voter as there is a loss in the psychology of a veteran that said, “I signed up for the war. I signed up for these veteran benefits. All of a sudden, you’re giving me this crappy service and support?” There is a letdown of, “I bought the sizzle and there’s no steak here. There’s no steak at all.” I was extending trust and now truth is a casualty. I’m believing your truth and now trust is a casualty. There’s a strong relationship with that. Tom, the big piece of messaging here, and this comes out of the tobacco industry, “What’s your product?”
The product is doubtful. That’s the product that they were selling for years and years, doubt that their product was going to kill or harm you. That’s what they sold. There’s a quote somewhere. I’m sure we can find it. The tobacco industry’s sizzle was, “Some doctors say this, but some doctors say that. We have some doctors that say it this way.” They were selling doubt that health was the problem. The need for trust and truth isn’t met there. There are a lot of problems there because do you want to have that experience with that product? The same thing’s happening with vapes. There’s no trust there that health is going to be there at that product. You’re getting the jolt, but it’s like smoking 40 cigarettes or something like that. It’s not good. The waiver was a ding. The mask, “We’re not wearing a mask,” was also a ding.
“We’ll provide them to everybody walking in, but we’re not going to require them to wear them.” Isn’t it interesting that the whole tobacco industry analogy is one thing? They’re sowing seeds of doubt that it’s not that bad for you on the one hand. It sounds eerily similar to the messaging around in terms of freedom. You can do what you want with your own body, smoke, and vape. There’s doubt that “It’s not that bad.” It’s the same thing around wearing a mask. There are these different, interesting seeds of doubt being sewn around your personal freedom and such if you’re required to wear a mask versus recommended to wear a mask. Isn’t that an interesting parallel, Bill?
Freedom is a powerful need, choice, and independence. Those three words are sold often to the voter. You’re going to lose your freedom, your choice, and your independence. The ability to have the independence, to walk down the path of independence is an anti-government message, but what they’re not getting and what the Democrats don’t get is the government is designed for stability. It’s not designed to take away your freedom. That’s not what it’s there for. Somebody that’s a king or an autocrat, they’ll take away your freedom in a heartbeat because they’ve got enough money to do it. They’re going to go like, “You’re not going to get your freedom. I’m going to squash you from the top by marginalizing your work and keep extracting more from the economy to accumulate this war chest.” It’s the weirdest thing to say, Tom. It’s like we’re living in a mashup of five different worst-case scenarios. It’s weird to talk about it this way. The mashup is part of us are living in the book, 1984, with Big Brother and in the world of Brave New World where truth gets saturated and all these messages so you can’t find the truth.The truth is less important than a person’s bias when it comes to getting votes. Click To Tweet
Part of us is living in the movie, Vendetta when there’s a pandemic, and let us do that. You people don’t do it. All of a sudden, there’s this rogue element to say, “We’re going to tear this down.” Part of us is living in the movie, The Matrix, that we’re all plugged into social media and we’re getting all these messages that many people are getting forced to sleep in a pod. The last one, which somebody gave was he goes, “Isn’t it Lord of the Flies? It isn’t it like who is the adolescent that is making the most noise and which adolescent is running the ship at any one time at the expense of other of these things?” It’s the worst mashup of those different things. I’m hoping we’re getting our readers to laugh a little bit here, but there’s a way out of this thing. There’s a way to get the truth to work for us again. Regrettably, most of the people, they’re out in the environment. They’re doing their best to be adults, but they’re struggling against the molecules of emotion that get swayed by this sizzle tactic that takes place.
We had our 100th episode. We’ve talked a lot about how truth gets purchased and also giving credit where credit is due to Donald Trump, the marketer, his organization, and his people. They’re brilliant marketers. They’ve been selling themselves successfully to enough Americans and the media machine behind them. What’s interesting to see is that you live by media and social media and you can die by social media and media. You can purchase truth, but truth can come and bite you in the rear end too. You got this K-pop group that come and purchase truth and make them believe they have all these million reservations, RSVPs for this event. This is a powerful force in social media. They also purchased truth in the City of Dallas, drowning out a White Lives Matter movement. They did drown out a racist, social media message by hijacking that hashtag and posting Korean pop music videos with the same hashtag to the point where the White Lives Matter social media movement got drowned out.
You’ve got to be careful with some of these things. You have this event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and 6,200 people show up. They had about 24 people at the overflow stage to the point where Donald Trump and Mike Pence did not even speak. They start dismantling the stage as the main event was going on inside. Look at any images and this is where truth can’t be purchased by Donald Trump. You look at any of the images inside that arena. Some of the comments, John Oliver said on that, “The empty blue seats in the arena were bluer than the sky.” He’s right. If you look at the photos, I saw people on the main lower floor that you would think would be packed with people standing room only, not in the upper deck, sitting wherever are doing cartwheels on that show floor because there’s so much empty space. Those images are death for a campaign messaging of popularity.
The people are not with you anymore. It’s the simple message is that in the past, President Donald Trump had the people with him and enough to get him elected and the people are not with him now. Joe Biden has got to pivot and say, “Here’s what real leadership, compromise, working together and unity is going to look like,” and start leading with some simple needs-based media messages about respect, recognition, what truth and trust looks like. He’s got to cast doubt in the direction of Donald Trump. His messaging he’s got to create doubt like, “I’m not sure if America wants to continue down the path of division worked for the president. It’s the thing that got him elected, but I’m not sure if America wants to continue down the path of division. We’ve tried the path of division, but I feel doubtful and most Americans feel doubtful about the path of division working.” I’m not running for president, but I sure sounded presidential because I’m saying here’s where we are. There’s a bunch of people that are in this place that division works for them and here’s what the ideal of America is. The ideal of America is one that has this message moving forward.
It should be relatively easy for the Joe Biden 2020 campaign to be crafting those messages and bringing them out. Donald Trump was unhappy because there were many negative messages that day leading into the Tulsa rally at the Bank of Oklahoma Center. Six of his advanced team campaign staffers have tested positive Coronavirus. That’s a bad message when you’re not requiring people to wear masks that you’re rallying and you’re going to be bringing thousands of people together. He had that negative message going into it. He had no overflow crowd. He had some bad news from the Justice Department stealing his thunder about somebody, a prosecuting attorney in New York getting replaced or forced out by Bill Barr.
Donald Trump in this rally was in many ways unhinged because he was in a bad mood. He was not his normal self. It appeared that he had lost control. He spent ten minutes talking about the ramp and also talking about testing and admitted from the stage the campaign had to try to repurchase truth and spin it afterward to say that. He said, “If you test more people, you’re going to find more cases. I’ve told my people, please stop testing.” He said this sincerely and afterward to try to spin it like he was joking, which he was not. The more upset he is in his own needs are not being met, the more self-destructive he gets on stage. It should be easy for Joe Biden too, as you say, “Here’s what leadership, fairness, safety, protection, and prosperity look like going forward.” Like you say, set the vision.
He’s got to set the vision to get his message and voters out of their seat. I was in a conversation with somebody and they said, “I don’t like either candidate. I’ve got two all-white guys that I’ve got to choose between.” The answer is, “That’s what you have.” Joe Biden has got to say, “I can set a vision. I can communicate hope. I can get people out of the seats.” Donald Trump can get fear to take place inside of more people that are at home that didn’t vote for Donald Trump last time. He could get them out of the seats by turning the furnace up a little bit more. That’s the challenge is that can the internal motive to get somebody that didn’t vote last time out of their house to this place overcome all of the obstacles that Democratic voters have to with the systems that are the gerrymandering and voter suppression and removal of polling places and standing in line. Although the messaging around mail and voting, that Bill Barr is even a part of that messaging, that he said that you can’t trust it and the truth is not even there. He’s the top litigator. He’s the top prosecutor. This is not ending well, but it’s a winner take all mindset.
The winner takes all mindset and says, “I don’t need to talk about truth. I need to talk about winning and the messages that will get me to win.” Even Newt Gingrich talks about this all the time. Being interviewed, he’ll say, “I’ll go with the voter. The voter believes that it’s not true. I’m interested in their vote. The truth is overrated here. I need their vote and I’m going to do anything I can for their vote because that’s what the game is. It’s what the vote is.” That the unsettling part of it is that the truth is not as important. It’s the person’s belief or bias that’s more important. That’s what Joe Biden needs to consider is don’t spend time trying to correct Donald Trump. They’re spending time correcting him. They are many times calling him a liar. Spend time setting the vision and moving the nation forward. Show where you are steering the ship away from the sirens over there that are going to cause the ship to crash.
It would be helpful if Joe Biden and the Joe Biden campaign would be a little more offense rather than defense in their actions and messaging, and not just play defense, seemingly trying to run out the clock without making any unforced errors. It seems to be maybe where they’re sitting now, which is an easy and maybe comfortable place to be given how Donald Trump has been behaving and how the campaign has been doing. They’re not going to send you to make mistake after mistake like this going forward, they’re going to rate their ship a bit.There’s only so much Donald Trump can do to prevent the truth from seeing the light of day. Click To Tweet
I wish they would take away from this show the cast doubt, promote skepticism around the Donald Trump brand. Promote those two things. Here’s what doubt and skepticism look like. It doesn’t seem like he’s getting the followership. There’s not a sizzle to the steak. In fact, with Donald Trump, there’s not even a steak. I came up with an easy talking point. There’s no steak. The media giant is interested in carrying Joe Biden’s message because they’re exhausted. They want to do their job. The media wants to go to back sleep in the area of politics. They don’t want this level of bombardment. It’s too much for them. They can’t even eat lunch. They can’t even go to sleep.
I imagine it would be refreshing for the media to have that to talk about and report on, rather than in the aftermath of the Oklahoma rally, the Donald Trump campaign trying to repurchase truth saying somehow it was Democratic protestors that were keeping people from getting into the arena. That’s why the crowd was small, which is amazing how we saw that. The truth was purchased before, during, and after this event. The truth is finding a way of seeing the light of day here. There’s only so much you can do to control that message.
We’ve got to get back on to the path of restoring truth and get healing and restoring the nation. What is it going to take? It takes good-willed people. There’s plenty of Republicans that are interested in restoring truth. All the leaders, all the military people, they’re interested in restoring truth. They’ve got to restore their party because after this crash and burn, if he does win, if Donald Trump were to win again because of outside interference, because of the various different tactics that they took the marathon, the garage sale will start coming out for the Republican Party. They won’t be able to restore the name if he’s in another four years and all those people, adult children that are Republicans have got to do another four years of not responding to his craziness. They are not able to do it. It’s tough.
It will do so much brand damage to the Republican brand. That’s why many of them are in favor of not supporting Donald Trump or at least not helping him as much as they can. Hope he gets out and then they can rebuild for four years from now.
They’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do. Their party has a different split. They’ve been great about splitting the Democratic Party between the oppressors over here and the moderates over here. That split is showing a huge crack on their side and that part is not good. We have a bit to go. I’m hoping the Joe Biden people will get on the message of vision, be able to set the course for what it’s going to look like. Here’s another example of this is a direction we don’t want America to go and move in that direction. That would be valuable and alive for them to do. There’s a little bit more work to do for us, Tom, that’s for sure.
There are a few months or so until the election, maybe a little less. There’s a lot to come and it’s going to be a wild ride seeing how truth gets purchased and may be repurchased. I enjoy having these conversations, Bill. Thanks, I look forward to our next episode.
- Part 1 – previous episode
- Part 2 – previous episode
- Brave New World
- Lord of the Flies