Monday, July 16, 2007


Adweek recently published a great article.

Webster's defines great as 1. unusually or comparatively large in size or dimensions and 6. notable; remarkable; exceptionally outstanding

I don't know about outstanding, but I'll give it big. And remarkable.

Basically, it breaks down some market research on the current crop of presidential hopefuls. Comparing them to things like Lexuses, Olive Gardens and - my favorite: cast members of Gilligans Island. It's interesting reading for me, a man who generates plenty of pithy ponderings on an endless array of crap that may or may not have any significance on your day. But of course, the next president may very well have some significance. I'm kind of pissed off that I didn't put one of these together myself a lot sooner. The market research (JWT actually did some sort of official research on this subject. Slow summer, fellas?) offers few surprises. People think Hilary is an out-of-touch windbag, like Mrs. Howell.

But it brings up a funny thing about advertising. The term "brand" is so elusive and squishy, most agencies find it hard to define a brand without using other brands.

"If Senator Clinton was a bourbon, which bourbon would she be? Would you drink it? Would you be seen ordering it?" I find defining brands with brands troubling. In addition to the circular weirdness of using hard-to-define brands to define other brands, if a brand is defined as, among other things, a collection of values mirrored by a product or company to a particular group of people, doesn't the group comparing the brands bring its own collection of values to the party? By JWT's methodology, Democrats and Republicans and Independents (and a most disturbingly undefined other/none-of-these set) "perceived [Hilary] as more Morton's Steakhouse (and to a degree Olive Garden) than Subway and McDonald's, more Nordstrom than Gap or Wal-Mart."

But do Democrats associate Olive Garden with values like "down to earth" and "bland, but affordable"? Might Republicans see it as a brand where poor people go for all-you-can-eat breadsticks. Might Independents see Olive Garden as "the man, bent on homogenizing every eating experience in this country, burying us in a glut of stripmalls and Starbuckses and shittily landscaped office-parks"? Before you ask these groups to attach a brand value to a candidate, shouldn't you know how these parties feel about those brands?

Instead, the entire article is run through the secondary filter: How advertising idiots like me feel about those brands. How self-described advertising junkies and adnerds perceive these brands in a landscape of advertising and kick-ass viral marketing tactics. People who see Walmart as an account that does a TON of shitty talking head TV - not as a corporate behemoth which ran our stores out of town and shipped all our jobs to china. Atleast not yet.

Your comments are appreciated.


Moda di Magno said...

If Hilary was a bourbon she would be Knob Creek. Subtle to start and then a throat burning scorcher to finish.

Then she would smash the bottle on the table and hold the shard-bearing neck at your throat until you screamed I'll vote for you!!!!!

I want me a lady president! Especially if Uncle Bill gets to handle foreign policy (even if it is only as a host of the White House dinner parties.)

James-H said...

Disagree. She'd be "Virgina Gentleman". Claiming to be a bourbon, but actually distilled in the wrong state - and of an inferior character all around. You did get the throat-burning and bottle-smashing right, though.

I want me a qualified President who doesn't make my toes curl when he/she stands at the podium. I want a President who I don't care if I trust or not, because he/she seems smart enough to make a well-informed decision without the aid of a poll or a lobbyist.

I want a President who may be rich enough to BUY The Palm in thirteen cities, but eats at the Record Grill because that's where you get the inside story on immigration AND a kickass enchilada for $2.95.

OMG - I want Bill Clinton again.

Make the logo bigger said...

“The term "brand" is so elusive and squishy, most agencies find it hard to define a brand without using other brands.”

Funny too, but look at movie pitches by studios, writers and directors. They use the same approach:

“It's like Top Gun meets Joe vs. the Volcano.”

Then there's also the idea that it's not just describing the candidates and the current brand they most represent, but the brand they aspire to be.

As for Fred Thompson?

Oh, he's definitely:

- a no-apologies Ford Expedition


- a Cutty Sark


- Quaker Oats (Bland, white and boring. But always dependable and right there when you need him.)