Via an unholy daisy chain of links from about 80 people, we findthis:

Watching Obamamania unfold over the last few days, I have gradually come to the realization that we are living through the first Presidential campaign that is being marketed like a high-end consumer brand.

The logo itself is a good jumping off point. The typical Presidential campaign logo usually features some variant of the stars and stripes. Beyond patriotism, they have no message. They are pretty much interchangeable between Republicans and Democrats.

Obama’s logo rearranges these patriotic elements into an emblem that distills his message to the core: the hope of the sun rising [or, Republicans, is it setting?] over amber waves of grain, with the novelty of the candidate’s unusual last name reinforced in an “O”. Unlike virtually every political logo in history, this one doesn’t shy away from the glows and gradients meant to give modern corporate logos realism and depth. And like good corporate logos, this logomark can be disaggregated from the candidate’s name, in the same way that the swoosh instantly screams “Nike” or the circular logos of BMW and Mercedes spark instant associations with affluence and prestige.

Emphasis mine, because, the first? Really?






“Flip-Flops or Boots?” asks one.

“Remember: It’s Your Money.”

“One Nation Under God.”

On a cadet blue background, bright as the October sky, a single sentence shares space with the “Bush/Cheney” icon – names silhouetted in a red, white and blue shooting star – or laser-guided bomb, depending on your point of view.

Ruffini’s point about a “high-end” brand being Obama’s claim to fame may be true. Between those signs and that Toby Keith song and all the Purple Heart band-aids, Brand Bush certainly wasn’t anything you’d want to put out on the table for company.


10 thoughts on “Branding

  1. You’re correct in pointing out that Obama’s not the first to create a political brand, but the examples you give for George Bush are more about branding in the marketing sense. Ruffini is talking specifically about the “O” brandmark. A better counter-example would be Bush’s actual brandmark, the bold blue capital “W” with the flag attached.

  2. atheanae,
    they are pissing themselves not because the democrats are “branding” obama but because for once the democrats are fully exploiting the charisma of their candidate and making a sucessful linkage between the imagery and the marketing. W himself, as buddhistmonkey and you both point out, was nothing but marketing from beginning to end. Remember the “born in texas” shitkicker stuff? the guy was famously born in CT. The very flightsuit image was a phony, given that his crotch was stuffed and he’d run out on his service. And yet. I”m sure a marketer would tell you that they have an easier time branding an empty suit than a full one.

  3. Atrios call this the “silly season,” and damn if he’s not right.
    That little swipe at Obama’s “unusual last name” really pisses me off. Because, obviously, only people with WASP-y namesdeserve to be President. Unusual last name? Really? Like “Fillmore?” “Nixon” isn’t exactly a common surname, either (thank Jeebus). And don’t get me started on how strange, or good for knock-knock jokes, “Eisenhower” is.
    They really are trying to send the entire Bush Presidency, campaigns and all, down the memory hole, aren’t they? For god’s sakes, everything about Bush was marketing, campaigns and administration. When they were lying us into war in Iraq, they didn’t really start the push until after Labor Day because, according to then-chief of staff Andrew Card, “from a marketing perspective, you don’t introduce new products in August.” Ruffini even pisses on the legacy of Saint Ronnie here. I thought one of the things the rightwing cult worshiped was Reagan’s inspiring rhetoric and ability to project feel-good emotions (“Morning in America,” anyone?).
    Jeebus. It’s too early to be this angry.

  4. The first billboard always struck me as especially appropriate, since the star is almost an exact replica of the Lockheed Martin logo.

  5. Am I the only one here old enough to remember the first edition of “The Selling of the President”?
    It’s why “Mad Men” included a sub-plot about the advertising firm being hired for Nixon’s first bid for the Presidency. Selling Presidents like soap is practially an American tradition!

  6. Bush’s campaign was all about marketing:
    — the fake ranch (old pig farm bought before the campaign)
    — the “down home Texan” (who was from Connecticut)
    — the “CEO president” (who failed at every business he ran)
    — “clearing brush” (how much “brush” can there be and why the hell does it need to be cleared?)
    — the “Washington outsider” (oh, please)
    — the “veteran fighter pilot” (of a cushy Guard post that he ditched and lost his clearance to fly)
    And on and on. Bush’s entire character was fabricated by a brilliant-but-evil marketing team.

  7. I have to disagree. Having spent some time inside the local Obama campaign, there just isn’t the emphasis on marketing slogans and other bullshit.
    The model is more community organizing (tell your friends and family why you like his policies, etc. etc.)
    Now, are they smart about using spiffy graphics and well produced commercials? sure. But republicans brand about lifestyle and identity.
    This is a whole other kettle of fish. I don’t know a single Obama supporter who has given 2 seconds thought to the Obama “logo.” No one cares.

  8. God is a ‘top’? ‘Cuz we’re certainly getting a**f**ked as a nation.

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