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?