Are You Brand Obama or Brand Romney?

Is Barack Obama an iPhone man or a Blackberry kind of guy? Does Mitt Romney like to “tweet” or is he more about “friending?”

Image says everything. That’s a mantra not only worshipped in marketing and advertising, but these days, in politics as well. So what images do our presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, convey when it comes to our favorite brands?

A recently released Presidential ImagePower Survey, conducted by brand consulting and design firm Landor Associates, and Penn Schoen Berland, shows that when it comes to Obama and Romney, Americans have some strong views as to what they believe the candidates and their wives are drinking, playing, driving, wearing, surfing, reading, and eating. The survey asked respondents to identify brands that are most like the presidential candidates and their wives, across 26 categories (e.g., if President Obama was a smart phone, what kind of smart phone would he be?).

Many of the 1,200 likely voter adults said, for example, that they associate Obama with home-brewed coffees, Ford cars, Budweiser beer, Marriott Hotels, J.C. Penny, Nike and basketball, whereas Romney was associated with high-end, luxury brands typically thought to be consumed by high-powered bosses – Starbucks, Armani, BMW, Ritz-Carlton hotels, Saks Fifth Avenue, and American Express. The Romneys’ perceived beer of choice (even though the Romneys, as Mormons, don’t drink)? Sam Adams (out of Massachusetts, of course). Any of this surprising to anyone?

Candidates often connect with voters like brands do, said Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of Landor Associations, but, “conversely, voters want to connect with candidates that embody trustworthy characteristics and are able to consistently deliver on their campaign promises.”

Penn Schoen Berland Managing Director Billy Mann said what was particularly interesting “is that both candidates seem to have successfully created what it means to be brand Obama and brand Romney within the voters’ minds.”

Now, most of us have been more exposed to the goings-on of the President and First Lady, so their brands and activities likely are more accurate than those for the Romneys, but this is a fun exercise anyway.

Here are other brands, products and activities these likely voters associated with the candidates and their wives:

Search Engine:

Barack & Michelle – Google

Mitt – Bing

Ann – Bing and Google


Barack – People

Michelle – Vogue/Ladies Home Journal

Mitt – Business Week

Ann – Ladies Home Journal

Superhero/Disney Princess:

Barack – Batman

Michelle – Jasmine (from “Aladdin”)

Mitt – Captain America

Ann – Snow White

Social Media Platform:

Barack & Michelle – Facebook

Mitt & Ann – LinkedIn

Clothing Brand:

Barack – Nike

Michelle – J. Crew

Mitt – Armani

Ann – Ralph Lauren

(Designer Isaac Mizrahi loves that Michelle Obama regularly wears his clothes, and says he would love to dress Ann, as well)


Barack – Apple Pie

Michelle – Fruit Sorbet (Now this I do not see;

Mitt & Ann – Apple Pie


Barack & Michelle – Beach/island trip

Mitt & Ann – European culture tour

Alcoholic Beverage:

Barack – Beer

Michelle – Red wine (Actually, I think of the First Lady as a beer drinker – not sure why)

Mitt – Martini (I definitely don’t peg him as a martini man)

Ann – Red Wine (Does she drink at all?)


Barack – Chess

Michelle – Twister

Mitt & Ann – Monopoly


Barack – Jay-Z

Michelle – Beyonce

Mitt – Tim McGraw

Ann – Faith Hill

Tech Company:

Barack – Apple/Google

Michelle – Apple

Mitt & Ann – Microsoft (this is apparently because these voters more associate the Obamas with change and advancement)


Barack & Michelle – Spring

Mitt & Ann – Winter (ouch!)


Barack – Basketball

Michelle – Yoga

Mitt – Golf

Ann – Tennis

Evening Out:

Barack & Michelle – Dinner with friends

Mitt & Ann – Going to the theater for an opera or show

Smart Phone:

Barack – iPhone/Blackberry

Mitt – BlackBerry/iPhone

Cosmetics Brand (for the ladies):

Michelle – Maybelline

Ann – Estee Lauder

Do you agree or disagree with any of these? What brands do you most associate with the Obamas and the Romneys? And will your choice on November 6 be influenced by your brand perceptions of the candidates?

Guest contributor Liza Porteus Viana is a journalist with more than 12 years of experience covering politics. She also covers business, intellectual property and homeland security for a number of media outlets, and is editor of Like many other moms, she is always trying to find that oh-so-elusive work-life balance as a full-time freelancer with a toddler at home in New Jersey. She previously worked at as a national and political correspondent, and National Journal as a technology policy writer in Washington, D.C., and her work has appeared in publications such as Worth Magazine, Portfolio, Politics Daily, The Huffington Post and Forward Magazine. Liza tweets at @lizapviana and is on Facebook. She also blogs at

Image via iStockphoto

  • Tracee Sioux

    I like Obama’s branding better than Romney’s. In fact I can’t think of what Romney’s look like.

    Obama’s a Mac.
    Mitt’s a PC.

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