Rhetorical question: Why are campaign posters always so uninspiring?
January 27, 2010
It’s election season again in Chicago (when is it not?) and, like crocuses, candidate’s signs are popping up all over our town. Unfortunately, unlike the flowers of spring, election signs are almost always muted, dull and hopelessly alike. It doesn’t seem to matter who’s running or what party the candidate belongs to, the cardboard placards are as non-descript as…cardboard placards. For obvious reasons, the most prevalent colors are red, white and blue. Occasionally, we see green, generally denoting the candidate as Irish-American, which has gravitas in Chicago. And that’s about it.
Even President Obama’s super famous logo was red, white and blue. No doubt his campaign had some cool propaganda, especially that “Hope” poster, but when it came to the cardboard placards, they were basically like all the others.
Why are these signs so homogenous? It seems like standing out might be a good thing. Or is it? Maybe candidates are playing it safe, not to lose. Not to be a cynic, but 99% of politicians are pretty much the same (especially after they’re elected). Why should their signs be any different?
In an article by Chicago Tribune reporter, Cynthia Dizikes, she asks the sales manager for CandidateSigns.com (a leading maker of campaign signs) why certain colors are always chosen. The answers are obvious and unsatisfying. Seen together red white and blue evoke patriotism (duh!). By itself red signifies passion. Blue stability. And as stated earlier, green means Irish. Although the sign salesman volunteered that green can also indicate pro-environment, I’m guessing Pat Quinn is mostly about the shamrock.
Amidst these boring yard weeds, relatively small aberrations seem bigger than they really are. For example, Senate candidate, Cheryle Jackson uses an orange and teal color scheme, which, according to the sign salesman, means she is a WOMAN (teal) of ACTION (orange). Seems kind of tacky to me, like a bridesmaid’s dress.
The most different sign (again, relatively speaking) is Senate candidate, Jacob Meister’s. He’s encased his name in a thought bubble, implying Facebook and social media. Such a renegade!
Campaign signs aren’t really ads, are they? I liken them more to markers and (now I am being cynical), as such they work like dog piss, marking territory. Joe Blow was here and here and here. Joe Blow is the alpha candidate in this hood!
Still, wouldn’t it be refreshing, if not downright cool, to see campaign signs that actually functioned like good out-of-home advertising? You know, something with a great message attached…a badass tagline. I’d vote for that guy. But then what do I know; I inhaled.