Apple(Obama) or PC(McCain)? Identifying candidates with brands make choosing easy.

November 1, 2008

A marketing story in The Chicago Tribune caught my eye. Brand consultants Landor & Associates surveyed 1000 people, asking them to align products with either the Democratic or Republican Party. Though the results weren’t surprising, I still found them fascinating. Here are few of the highlights:

Obama is a BMW sedan. McCain is a Ford truck.
McCain is a Blackberry. Obama is an IPOD.
Obama is a bag of Terra Chips. McCain is a bag of Cheetos.
McCain is a PC. Obama is a Mac.
Obama is a bottle of Sam Adams. McCain is a bottle of Bud.

Obviously, the upscale and urbane products align with the debonair Obama, while tried and true American staples plug right into MaCain. The article points out that consumers readily placed products according to the politicians messages and personas.

As I said, none of this is particularly surprising. Nor are these findings as incriminating as one might imagine. At first glance, it appears Obama got all the high cards. But, in fact, though his cards may be shinier that doesn’t necessarily mean better. For all its well-deserved glory, Apple represents less than 10% of the market. PC users are the vast majority. If you were the candidate, which would you rather be? And while a German-engineered BMW is more prestigious than a Ford truck it also costs a lot more and is an elitist icon –not good when you’re talking to Joe the Plumber.

But let’s turn the tables. Instead of analyzing the comparisons from the candidate’s point of view, let’s view them from a brand perspective. How does BMW feel about being aligned with Obama? I’m guessing pretty well. Unless, of course, their priciest models are better suited to rich Republicans. I’m thinking PC aka Microsoft, Dell, HP could go either way. They enjoy holding their majority position but are left leaning in communications. “I am a PC” is totally a reaction by Microsoft to being pegged dorks by Apple. These days a crunchy tree-hugger is far less dorky than a chubby bean counter –although, I suppose that depends on your definition of “dork.”

Since Obama is clearly the hipper of the two candidates, it stands to reason most products would be attracted to that persona. And since his left-leaning hipness is arguable going to win him the election, it is no longer a minority position. Yet, I still think Ford is happy to represent McCain country, especially when it comes to trucks. Do they have another play? What about Budweiser? Lord knows the “Wassup” parody video making the rounds is 100% uncut propaganda for Obama. I’d argue the original campaign was as well. Despite its all-American reputation, I know Budweiser has an appetite for new blood. Holding on to its Red State core is perhaps a death sentence, albeit a slow one.

And where does Bud Light fit in to the debate? Is Bud Light the Obama to Budweiser’s McCain or is Bud Light a “young Republican?” Given Bud Light’s immense popularity, I’m sure both candidates would accept the nomination!

So next Tuesday, when you close the curtain to vote, ask yourself: What do I want running the country –an Ipod or a Blacberry?


12 Responses to “Apple(Obama) or PC(McCain)? Identifying candidates with brands make choosing easy.”

  1. Bernsie said

    I love my Ipod and I own a truck.
    If someone uses products from both lists (like me), does that make him/her a moderate or an independent?

  2. medelman said

    Hah. The first thing I thought was that the Cheetos people are going to be searching for a new agency!

    Perhaps the election is akin to a product launch. When’s the last time people stood in line for 4 hours for the release of… the new Blackberry? America feels tired and decidedly uncool. We’ve now got a political brand we can go and affiliate with “for free” (well – not really, but the average person does NOT read the tax plans!) that will give us that lift, that swagger that we are missing.

  3. SRP said

    I agree with Medelman-
    Regardless of issues, Brand USA would get a lift from Obama. Waiting in line for an Ipod, or to vote Obama, is eerily similar.
    But let’s not forget the ton of people who resent that “lift.” Last count, they were the majority.

  4. Jason Fox said

    According to that list, I should vote for Obama (although I do prefer Cheetos). But I’m not. Which is why affinity marketing is such a tricky thing. And why people often confuse Conservative politics with conservative tastes.

  5. Mexi said

    So 98% of my agency supports obama. I go against the grain and supprt McCain, despite the overt hostility I encounter. Does that make ME the true rebel and thus more hip?

  6. Van Gould said

    In my opinion, Obama is a PC, and McCain is a Mac. It is McCain and the Mac that have become known for running incredibly negative campaigns. Obama and the PC are unifying people. Sarah Palin and Justin Long may have created some temporary hype for both campaigns, but I believe bringing people together will prove to be a much better strategy in the end.

  7. Voice of Reason said

    Are we arguing presidential candidates or personal computers?
    either way, I’m digging it!
    PS: Is being a “Rebel with MacCain” like doing a “reverse maverick?”

  8. Jason Fox said

    I’ll be doing the Double Reverse Maverick around 10:32 a.m. CST.

  9. Mexi said

    But which candiate is Ronald McDonald and which one is the King?

  10. I’m all iPod. Or, iPhone, as it were.

    But, in the unlikely event that McCain wins, does anyone have any agency contacts in London they can pass on??

  11. Katie K said

    That article just proves to you that everything and everyone in the world is part of the brand image persona.

    It makes sense that Obama has just been elected our newest president, because the young people were the majority voters and Obama’s image is branded with all of the younger/hipper products.

  12. […] I stumbled upon THIS blog entry that highlights some work done by Landor & Associates . They surveyed 1000 people […]

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