Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Branding of Obamamania

Posted by Teresa at 9:36 AM
It's often said that young people are looking for authenticity and want to "keep it
real." For a demographic (for which I'm in) that repeatedly says that we are searching
for something real and authentic, we sure seem to continually seem to fall for mass
produced, aesthetically appealing ad campaigns with awesome slogans. I think this is
the case with Sen. Obama getting the youth vote. I read this interview with graphic
Michael Beirut in which he discusses the branding of Obama's campaigning.
Here's a portion:
That's his "logo," right?
Right. A lot of times when he's at a podium what you'll see is, centered
right beneath him, at the very top of the blue field that usually says
something like "Change You Can Believe In," it'll be just that little symbol,
functioning in the same way the Nike swoosh does. People look at that and
know what it means, even though it's just an "O" with some stripes in it.

Has any other campaign ever "pulled a Nike"?
Well, Bush did that the last time around with the letter "W," to some degree.
You would see somebody with the letter "W" on a bumper sticker, and it would
kind of work that way. But Obama has gotten there much quicker and a little
more gracefully, if you ask me.

How else is Obama's design different than what has come before--
or what rival campaigns are doing?

He's the first candidate, actually, who's had a coherent, top-to-bottom,
360-degree system at work. Whereas, I think it's more more common for
politicians to have a bumper-sticker symbol that they just stick on everything
and hope that that will carry the day.

The thing that sort of flabbergasts me as a professional graphic designer is
that, somewhere along the way, they decided that all their graphics would
basically be done in the same typeface, which is this typeface called Gotham.
If you look at one of his rallies, every single non-handmade sign is in that font.
Every single one of them. And they're all perfectly spaced and perfectly
arranged. Trust me. I've done graphics for events --and I know what it takes
to have rally after rally without someone saying, "Oh, we ran out of signs, let's
do a batch in Arial." It just doesn't seem to happen. There's an absolute level
of control that I have trouble achieving with my corporate clients.

Then if you go to the Web site, it's all reflected there too--all the same elements
showing up in this clean, smooth, elegant way. It all ties together really, really
beautifully as a system.
I agree with Beirut that Obama's campaign has the best designed logo, Web site, and
slogan. It's simple and sleek. Beirut suggests his effective campaign advertising means
it could lead people to believe he'll be an effective president.

As a young person, I'm tired of being marketed too. I've grown up with sleek advertising.
It's disturbing when I see this in a political campaign (as noted in the article this is not
the first well-designed campaign advertising) because I'm not being asked to buy a product
but buy into a political philosophy. What also bothers me is how my age group contradicts
itself. We talk about seeking authenticity and substance but when it comes to making a
choice that's not what we choose. There's no longer a place in our society that doesn't
have advertising. Now even our politics is to be sloganeered.

Video added:


Angry African on the Loose said...

Maybe people believe in him because he has a vision. Great leaders do that. It might feel like marketing for some, but maybe it is because marketing took it from great leaders and not the other way around. Take my favourite leader - Nelson Mandela - he became a "branded" leader who stood for something. Is Obama the American Mandela? Obama brings a message of hope and change to a country at the crossroads. It is choice between the past and the future. But is Obama the American Mandela who could inspire Americans to a better future at home? And a future where America takes it rightful place at the global table? Is he the one? The question of whether Obama is the American Mandela is discussed in my blog Angry African on the Loose at

Teresa on 11:35 AM, March 01, 2008 said...

Thanks for your reply angry african on the loose.

I would like point out that article I linked to says that Obama is not the only that has used a massive ad campaign. He mentions Reagan and Bush. So, I know I'm talking about Obama in my article but really it's not a Republican or Democrat issue. I probably should have reiterated that. I just feel that marketing has watered down politics just as it is doing to Christianity here in America.

Bri on 1:26 PM, March 01, 2008 said...

Go Terry.


Terry Ann Online Copyright © 2010 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template Sponsored by Online Shop Vector by Artshare