From the Wall Street Journal. Pay site, so text below.
Is Bush a Ford and Kerry a BMW?
Poll Voters Define Senator,
President as Rival Brands:
Challenger vs. Old Reliable
By BRIAN STEINBERG
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
August 30, 2004; Page B3
It's no startling insight to point out that presidential candidates sell themselves as if they were breakfast cereal or laundry detergent. So it was perhaps inevitable that this would be taken a step further by studying consumers ... er, voters ... along these same lines.
Accordingly, a new survey asked respondents to define the candidates in terms of popular advertising brands.
Bush supporters, for example, think Mr. Bush is Bud Light and Mr. Kerry is Heineken. Kerry backers see Mr. Bush as IBM and Mr. Kerry as Dell.
The study, conducted jointly by WPP Group's Landor branding consultancy and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, a market-research company that works for political -- usually Democratic -- campaigns, seems to reflect the obvious attributes of the president's incumbency: Mr. Bush is like a "well-known leadership brand" and Mr. Kerry a "lesser-known challenger brand." Winning over undecided voters could depend on managing these two "critical points of differentiation," according to the survey's findings.
It also depends on where you like to go for breakfast. Undecided voters see Mr. Bush as Dunkin' Donuts and Mr. Kerry as Starbucks. Lunch? Mr. Bush is McDonald's; Mr. Kerry is Subway to the undecideds. Reading material? Undecided voters link Mr. Bush to Business Week and Mr. Kerry with People.
These undecideds, like the Bush supporters, see Mr. Bush as a Ford, Mr. Kerry as a BMW. They also think Mr. Bush is IBM while Mr. Kerry is Apple Computer. Oddly, Mr. Bush is linked by undecideds to Sam Adams from Boston Beer, in Mr. Kerry's backyard.
Mr. Bush's brands are seen as "ol' reliables" that some voters may associate with being outdated or unwilling to change, according to the survey. At the same time, those brands are eminently dependable. Mr. Kerry's brands are seen as eager to take on an established competitor and as possessing upside potential, but could also be viewed as risky and unproven.
A lot will depend upon the nation's mood as Election Day nears, says Allen Adamson, a managing director at Landor. "In uncertain times, people go to brands that they are very comfortable with," he says. If anxiety is high as the election approaches, he says, that could favor Mr. Bush.
The study concludes that Mr. Kerry has a slight advantage over Mr. Bush with undecided voters because his brand is equated with those that "occupy newer, more solid territory as category leaders."
But Greg Strimple a Republican pollster with Mercury Public Affairs, a boutique public-affairs consulting firm owned by Omnicom Group, is skeptical about portraying Mr. Bush "like mac 'n' cheese to Mr. Kerry's penne alfresco." "I don't know that I buy it," he says, although seeing undecided voters divide the candidates in such a fashion supports the notion that "there is a definite difference in the way that these two candidates appeal to voters along cultural issues."
A spokesman for Mr. Kerry's campaign declined to comment on the survey. Calls for comment from Mr. Bush's campaign weren't returned.
Penn, Schoen & Berland conducted 1,262 Internet interviews between Aug. 6 and Aug. 11. Respondents of the survey were registered voters and planned to vote in the coming presidential election.
Finally, figure this one out: Supporters of each candidate associated their man with Holiday Inn Express and their opponent with Motel 6. We'll leave the light on for you.