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September 2008


Julia Tanen

I think it comes down to positioning. In all truth, the maverick position makes no sense. First, you've got an old guy, calling himself a maverick. Well...take a look in the mirror, John. But more pointedly, the concept of Maverik doesn't work as well as the clear concept of Change. We like the idea of 'Change' but we don't like the concept of 'Maverick.' We want smartness, steadiness, we want thought, intellectualism. Maverick implies that someone is impulsive. Implies that someone might make a rash decision and then think about the consequences later. Doesn't imply safety. Change....ah now that feels good. Open, safe, and smart.

I don't think that Maverick would have worked any way . . . even if he was more brand-steady.


This was great and creative. I like pepsi myself.

Nicole Ravlin

I really enjoyed your post! Thanks.

I found it really funny as in college my stats project was if one party preferred Coke or Pepsi. My findings were that more Republicans drank Pepsi and Democrats preferred Coke. Your post just reminded me of that.

Tev Kofsky

Your comparison here really works well!

Just like any other brand centric company, (or in this case presidential campaign) are a number of USPTO trademark filings related to various products & slogans. Here are some 2008 presidential campaign trademarks:


Of course unlike in corporate branding, most of these trademarks were filed by various unrelated individuals.


Hi. Just to let you know that added two of Rie's Pieces blog posts to spotlightideas.co.uk Top 250 Blog Posts - Advertising, Marketing, Media & PR.

Tim Weishuhn

Coke, Pepsi, Who's on the Jolt ticket???


you wanted a smarter discussion and you said about McCain...

"I was a POW, now give me the goddamn presidency already"

You sound like a bitter liberal to me.
If that is your idea of a smart discussion, no thanks.

Linda Ziskind

Oh, my little sister in blondness, if only the task of choosing the leader of our damaged, creaky, but still somewhat globally influential country could be reduced to how strategically and slickly packaged each candidate is. You're quite right, that's what it will probably come down to, but your premise of product parity is flawed and, call me crazy, but I think my life, this country, and the world have too much riding on the outcome to engage in such a glib exercise. To be brief, McCain is a whiney geriatric with low charisma, but with excellent longevity genes, who's "I was a POW, now give me the goddamn presidency already" platform was getting a little stale, and whose positions and voting record are actually more 'party suckup" than "maverick". He was generating obligatory, but not passionate support among the party faithful and religious fanatics who mistakenly believe this country was founded on the precepts of Christian obedience instead of religious freedom. And then he did something scary and I don't think even he understands how scary it is. He picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. She is a master at speaking articulately in the patois of middle america, she's ruthlessly ambitious, vindictive, and capable of switching positions & beliefs on a dime and then handing you the change. In short order, he's become her running mate.
The McCain/Palin ticket has done a credible job in marketing themselves, employing the same strategies that get us all to spend ridiculous amounts of time fretting over which of 5 different dish detergent brands (all with the same ingredients and the same "cleaning power") will make our plates sparkle.
Is this really how we want the election to be determined? Aren't we better and smarter than that?

Greg Gillispie

Is it appropriate for an author, particularly one writing about marketing tactics, supposed to express personal opinions on who will/should win the presidency?


I think Obama should use McCain's maverick position ot his advantage. George Bush, especailly when he started, ran as a maverick/outsider who would shake things up. Obama should help brand McCain as a maverick and at the same time show that Bush is the same brand and thus McCain = Bush aka both are "straight talkers", trust their gut, and act first, think later. So while the admiinstrations would be different you know style in which they'd run things would be the same.


I think Obama needs to exploit McCain's Maverick keyword, expecially since it was reinforced by his VP pick of Palin.

On election day, I think people are going to the polls with a certain feeling about each candidate, as opposed to "clinging" to facts and promises they heard. Therefore, it's important to get this "feeling" right, especially in this very close race.

For Obama to win, he has to position "maverick" as an unsafe choice. Do you really want a maverick answering the phone at 3am? Maverick is great for one person because you can take a lot of arrows and get back up again. But I think most Americans are risk adverse when it come to country matters - no thanks to rolling the dice on critical decisions.

McCain would have to say that all change is not positive, to win.

On election day, it's change vs maverick. That's feelings that people can get their arms around.


Great post and great analogy!

I agree that the pick of VP was a lose/lose for Obama. If he wanted to secure the White House, the pick should have been Hillary. Better to put up with the Clinton's than lose the election. Although the Clinton name doesn't stand for "change" she would be the first women VP-definite change. This also would mute the Palin choice.

McCain reinforces the "Maverick" with his VP pick-no question. Obama does the exact opposite. "Change" with Biden, I don't think so.

It drove me crazy seeing all the different signs at the RNC, Country First, Hockey Moms 4 Palin, Families 4 McCain, etc.

Although Obama has connected with the youth they usually don't vote and their voting impact is usually small.

I think one thing that has hurt Obama is his popularity. After he won states in the primary, the crowds were huge. Speaking in front of tens of thousands, in stadiums. He couldn't simply speak for 15 minutes like McCain in a town hall of 400 people. Thousands came to hear him speak. Most times the speeches lasted 45 minutes, he had too, he couldn't let down the crowd. Too much early exposure. The media coverage was 5-1 in favor of Obama. This might come back to hurt him.

Do people want to have his face all over the media for the next four years like it has already been, we'll see. As of late Obama is looking more like a whiner than a winner. Attacking opponents usually doesn't work.

Also, where are the ads for the party. I think money would be better spent on promoting the party not attacking the other candidate.

Robert Miller

Good analogies :)

I performed an in depth analysis of the voting records of Joseph Biden, John McCain, and Barack Obama over the last two years. I thought you might like to read it: http://www.pardontheinformation.com/2008/09/biden-vs-mccain-vs-obama-voting-records.html

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