Your SlideShare is downloading. ×
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Thanks for flagging this SlideShare!

Oops! An error has occurred.

×
Saving this for later? Get the SlideShare app to save on your phone or tablet. Read anywhere, anytime – even offline.
Text the download link to your phone
Standard text messaging rates apply

The Influence of Design on Political Campaign Success

5,333

Published on

A dissertation exploring the influence of design on the 2008 Obama political campaign. It looks to answer the question: 'Did the flawless design strategy of the campaign lead to Obama's victory?'

A dissertation exploring the influence of design on the 2008 Obama political campaign. It looks to answer the question: 'Did the flawless design strategy of the campaign lead to Obama's victory?'

Published in: Design
0 Comments
7 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
5,333
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
12
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
298
Comments
0
Likes
7
Embeds 0
No embeds

Report content
Flagged as inappropriate Flag as inappropriate
Flag as inappropriate

Select your reason for flagging this presentation as inappropriate.

Cancel
No notes for slide

Transcript

  • 1.  In a democratic society voting, by its nature, should be an unbiased exercise resulting in afairly elected leader. Throughout history political campaigns have always done their best tohelp sway the electorate to vote one way or another via the use of persuasive language andimagery. It is after all a sale of ideology. These techniques have developed through thedecades and with the advancement of graphic design paired with a myriad of new media toharness, there has been a paradigm shift in political campaigning. An article by Lamar(2010) highlights this shift by stating “The 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign broughtsocial media marketing to mainstream political campaigns. The success of the Obama teamand the way this team used social media to spread their message should be a guide for everypolitical campaign”.Well-executed political campaign design can influence the outcomes of voting as it has theability to portray a candidate as something they are not. Undecided voters can be swept upin a cult of personality and branding techniques can embed the candidate in our mindsbefore the election process has even begun. Thus it raises the question: To what extent didthe design strategy of Obama’s campaign contribute to his mass popularity and victory in2008, and also to the radical shift in public opinion that followed by the end of 2010?During a personal interview the creative director of the Obama campaign touched on thiscontroversial question when he admitted, “You can use good design and to a certain degree itblurs the lines a bit” Thomas (2010). This statement forms the basis of the following study,which aims to investigate all elements of the Obama campaign to determine the influence ofdesign on its success.Research MethodsInterview the creative director of the campaign to gain a concise overview of what wasrequired of the design team. Find out any specific communication strategies that might havebeen imposed on them and explore the reasons behind their design choices (colors, fonts, useof imagery, layouts etc). Investigate if any strategic marketing techniques were used topromote Obama the same way a mass consumption product would be sold. Research alljournals, dissertations and articles relating to the topic of political campaign strategies, designstrategies, and communication techniques. Search news articles for pundit reviews andopinions of campaign success and current backlash. Conduct a thorough analysis of the‘Designing Obama’ book that contains the entire design strategy used by Scott Thomas.  1  
  • 2.  Limitations Of StudyDue to the fact that this is a very recent event the amount of detailed and concisepublications based on the topic are scarce. The bulk of the research will have to rely onInternet sources of news articles, pundit blogs and a search for relevant dissertationspublished by the academic community.Organization Of The DissertationThe study attempts to break apart the thesis and give substantial answers via a variety ofarguments. First the political landscape of America is analyzed, focusing on the years beforeand leading up to the campaign to put the study into context and explain why America wasso hungry to jump on the first scent of change they were given. It also briefly looks at theconventional wisdom of political campaign design to show how this was deliberately brokento personify the change the campaign was advocating. It then continues to explore thedesign of the campaign itself highlighting techniques that could have influenced its success.These techniques are described and an explanation as to why they are effective creates thearguments that answer the thesis. Finally an analysis of public opinion following Obama’svictory aims to explore why it has dropped so suddenly and significantly considering thehype of two years ago.  2  
  • 3.  Time For A ChangeAmerica in 2008 was not the beacon of hope it had once been. There was risingunemployment and a financial crisis that had brought the country’s economy crashing down.Social inequality was increasing rapidly and people were loosing homes due to foreclosures.The country was massively unhappy that America was still participating in the Afghanistanconflict and to top it all, there had been 8 years under the Bush administration that had seenits lowest approval ratings of all time (below 40%). Based on the right track wrong trackpolls taken in late 2008 it is clear the vast majority of the country wanted to take a newdirection, “In the face of economic upheaval in the United States, a record 89 percent ofAmericans now say the country has pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track while just7 percent of Americans say the country is going in the right direction, according to the latestNew York Times/CBS News Poll”. (Thee, 2009).Running parallel to this was an America that was fully embracing the digital age and that hadbecome so utterly saturated by marketing that this was one of the only facets ofcommunication people would respond. A publication by Bratt and Smith (2009, pp. 3-4)stated, “According to Nielsen/NetRatings and the U.S. Census Bureau, the United States hasan Internet usage household penetration rate of 72.5 percent, and a population of userstotaling 220 million”. The huge obsession with celebrity culture in combination with the growing global socialnetworks had made it too easy to give rise to a cult of personality. America was begging forchange at this point, which left them susceptible to intelligent marketing and designstrategies. It was against this backdrop that in the run up to the 2008 Presidential Electionsupport and enthusiasm for Obama was increasing at a dramatic rate culminating in a frenzyby the time of his victory and inauguration in January 2009.Goodbye ConventionEvery presidential campaign had looked the same before the innovation of the Obamacampaign, which enabled him to grab the attention of the watching electorate easily. It hadbecome tried and true wisdom that the best way to present yourself when running was to useclean and masculine type, some reference to the American flag and an overall visual stylereminiscent of 50’s and 60’s modernism and neutrality. “Take Obamas rivals. Their visualidentities are in the conservative style that would-be presidents have used for decades.”(Rawsthorn, 2008). As the following examples show the logos lack any kind of conceptual  3  
  • 4.  prowess. They are lifeless and deliberately neutral in an attempt to reach as many people aspossible but in doing so lack anything a viewer can really connect with. fig 1. Comparison between Obama logo and the previous campaign winners.In 2008 this traditional conservative approach to campaign design was demolished with theunveiling of the Obama logo created by Sol Sender. This logo represented a step away fromconvention as it removed itself from the usual passive and neutral forms of traditionalpolitical logos and took a committed conceptual direction. The logo depicts a sun risingover a ploughed field, which symbolized the historic nature of the campaign, and aconnection with the workingman. The reason behind this choice of concept was explainedby the logo creator, Sol Sender in an interview with Steven Heller, “When we received theassignment, we immediately read both of Senator Obama’s books…There was [a] strongsense, from the start, that his campaign represented something entirely new in Americanpolitics – ‘a new day’ so to speak” (Thomas 2010, p. xxiii). The American people werelooking for a change and that’s exactly what the Obama campaign delivered. It wasparamount that the campaign step away from the norms of visual communication if they  4  
  • 5.  were to align the design aesthetic with their strategic goals of change and progress. It was abold step but the results were hard to ignore.Harnessing The MediaAlthough the visual ambition of the Obama campaign is unrivaled in history there have beenother successful innovations in political marketing. Additionally this is not the first time acandidate has harnessed the power of new media to gain huge momentum in his campaignsuccess. During the 1964 Lyndon B Johnson and Barry Goldwater elections, LBJ’s designteam (DDB) created and ran an ad featuring a small girl counting petals on a daisy. As she iscounting the voice of a loudspeaker mimics her numbers but it is clearly the countdown to amissile launch. The final part of the ad shows a nuclear explosion with the voice over saying“Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home”. fig 2. Story board of the famous ‘Dasiy’ TV Advertisement.The savvy design team had used the advent of TV to their advantage and propelled LBJ to alandslide victory. This was the turning point in TV advertising history and from this pointevery political candidate would try and gain the same success from TV spots. A negativeconsequence of this success however was the increased aggression in smearing of politicalopposition. In 2008 we saw the same intelligent use of new and existing media but on amuch larger scale. It is a well know fact that marketing techniques are used to helppoliticians as stated by an article in Newsweek, “Every presidential candidate since RichardNixon in 1968 was actively "marketed" to the American public” (Ramano, 2008), but neverbefore have we seen such a flawless execution of political branding in the history of Americanpolitical campaigns. This was the catalyst Obama needed to begin his exponential rise tosuccess.  5  
  • 6.  Hiding InexperienceFrom the very beginning of the campaign the design team knew they would have to subduethe public perception of Obama’s inexperience via his visual presentation. This sentiment isexpressed in a New York Times article that states, “Every element of his visual identity hasbeen masterfully conceived and executed to depict Obama as perfect presidential material”(Rawsthorn, 2008). According to a lecture by Scott Thomas, the strategy used was toimplement “the timeless…he’s already president feel” (Thomas, S. 2009) into his brandimage. The use of consistency was vital as “one thing that design can solve with consistencyis [to] establish…a sense of balance…it can also really…give the visual impression that he’sincredibly experienced.” (Thomas, S. 2009). The Obama team “invented a new type ofpresidential identity, intended to optimize their candidates appeal to an increasinglyfragmented electorate in the media frenzy of the Web 2.0 era” (Rawsthorn, 2008). fig 3. Expert use of consistency in the visual communication makes Obama seem organized, experienced and competent.  6  
  • 7.  Thomas (2010, p. 78) stated “Because of their evocative power, design and brandingelements can create a stable bond between voters and the candidate…we wanted to elicit thefeeling that he was a familiar figure whose attributes and values they could relate to andtrust.”Another strategy to compensate for Obama’s perceived weakness was to make elements ofthe design look reminiscent of such important documents as the Bill Of Rights and theoriginal American Constitution to emphasize how historically important for America thecampaign was. Rather than simply stating this in the communication the entire aestheticwas designed around old archival materials. “We wanted to pull from imagery of the past tocommunicate the historic atmosphere of the campaign” (Thomas, S. 2009). fig 4. Certain information was designed using real historical documents found in local archives for an authentic vintage feel.This strategy not only highlighted the importance of the campaign but also using imagerythat resembled historical documents, elicited a sense of patriotism and American sentiment,which could have a strong subliminal effect.Another way the Obama campaign was able to achieve impeccable consistency was due tothe versatility of Sol Sender’s Obama logo. It became capable of being used in isolation ofthe word ‘Obama’ in the same way the Nike swoosh is synonymous with the word Nike.This meant visual communication needed only the small circle to be a part of the Obamabrand package. It was also tailored to function as a visual identity for the myriad of  7  
  • 8.  supporting groups associated with the campaign. Thomas explains “To create thesespecialized logos, we integrated symbolic forms that signified a demographic’s distinctqualities into the visual centerpiece of the logo.” (Thomas 2010, p. 15). The team alsocreated a set of logos for each state that included elements of the original Obama logo intothe letters which when combined showed the country as one cohesive unit. fig 5. Complete logo set of each state shows the country as one untied unit“The next coup was to customize Obamas identity to appeal to different voters…Axelrodhas planned Obamas campaign on the Web 2.0 principle that we live in such a frenziedmedia landscape…and we only respond to imagery that seems to be directed atus personally” (Rawsthorn, 2008). The following selection of Obama logos highlights thistechnique of targeting individual groups through visual imagery.  8  
  • 9.   fig 6. Small collection of customized Obama logos that talk directly to constituent groups.  9  
  • 10.  “This approach balanced diversity with unity, using variety to highlight the power ofindividuals while maintaining a unified and consistent visual identity.” Thomas (2010, p.15). These techniques had a powerful effect that gave the country a real sense of solidarity.Combining this with the other forms of consistency already in place create an overall brandimage that seems as effective as high end consumer brands. This sentiment is once againexpressed by an article on the New York Times site, “Obamas marketing is much morecohesive and comprehensive than anything weve seen before, involving fonts, logos and webdesign in a way that transcends the mere appropriation of commercial tactics to achieve thesort of seamless brand identity that the most up-to-date companies strive for.” (Rawsthorn,2008).Never before had such an innovative and consistent execution of a political candidates visualcommunication been attained in America. Steven Heller admitted, “Everyone I know agreesthat Barack Obama won the design race. Whatever reason, his campaign knew early on thatcoordinated graphics were beneficial and that modern typography would signal change”(Thomas 2010, p xxi)An American TypefaceTo help the campaign attain maximum consistency and elicit a feeling of Americansentiment the design team was going to need a special font for the job. During thebeginning of the campaign the two primary fonts used for the Obama visual identity wereGill Sans and Perpetua. Both of these were created by British type designer Eric Gill andhad a subtle British style. Perpetua had been created for use in English churches and GillSans had been inspired by the London Underground signage. According to Thomas“…these qualities also made then seem stylistically formal, and somewhat reminiscent of aEuropean black-tie affair” (Thomas 2010, p. 99).After evaluating which typeface would be more suitable the design team turned to a modernand well-known typeface called Gotham created by Johnathan Hoefler and Tobais Frere-Jones. This typeface had originally been commissioned for GQ magazine and had a fresh,masculine feel. It had been inspired by signage at the New York Port Authority BusTerminal and produced nostalgic feelings of old New York. A New York Times articlecommented “no typeface could seem better suited to a dynamic, yet conscientious, Americanpublic servant.” (Rawsthorn, 2008). This unassuming typeface was perfect for the campaignas it could be used in a variety of ways but more importantly subtly contributed to the visualfeeling of 20’s and 30’s Americana. Thomas describes this effect as “…delicate and oftensubliminal” (Thomas 2010, p. 100).Finally the secondary fonts were chosen which included Liberation Serif for body text andSnell Roundhand for special ornamental text elements. This was the second design touchthat contributed to the visual communication seeming reminiscent of the historicaldocuments of America such as the Bill of Rights.  10  
  • 11.   fig 7. Examples of the chosen typefaces and their possible executions.  11  
  • 12.  Misleading And Subliminal ImageryMany people are suggesting a form of subliminal advertising and messaging was at workduring the Obama campaign. One article tries to compare the subtle use of subliminalimagery by the Obama design team with the Illuminati, stating “they know that whenlooked at, most people do not consciously know what the symbols (corporate logos, etc), allcarefully chosen, and each with definite and specific meanings, that are put before themmean, but the human subconscious and race group mind does understand and reacts tothem” (Fobes, 2008). In June 2008 the design team created a seal to be displayed onObama’s lectern that very closely resembled the Presidential seal. This caused controversy inthe media and when Steven Heller ask Scott Thomas to name the most heated design battleof the campaign “Thomas brought up the infamous ‘presidential seal’ debacle” (Kessler, B.2008). fig 8. Obama in front of the controversial custom presidential seal with Latin slogan saying ‘yes we can’.Imagery such as Obama standing in front of a presidential looking seal before he is presidentcan have subtle subliminal effects. It implies that he has already won before the election hastaken place and can be a powerful persuasive device if used strategically. Sol Sender, thedesigner of the Obama logo suggested “although the ‘presidential seal’ was used by thecampaign only briefly, seeing Obama-the-candidate standing behind that familiar regal eaglehad a lingering effect in the minds of voters” (Kessler, B. 2008). In addition to this the  12  
  • 13.  voters have been subject to rock solid consistency in the visual communication that hasstrengthened the Obama brand deep in their subconscious minds. Another more subtleportrayal of the presidential seal can be seen on the Obama website itself which showsmomentarily before the content loads. This graphic has been changed to fit the site but itclearly has a ‘presidential feel’ about it that once again reinforced the subliminal idea thatObama was already president before the elections. fig 9. Presidential style seal in the background of the Obama website.A final example of using misleading imagery can be seen in the complete redesign ofObama’s campaign plane. The classic tail design of the American flag has been strippedaway and replaced with the Obama logo. This could be considered unpatriotic but it seemsthe idea was to strengthen the connection between America and Obama. Also the campaignslogan is positioned in such as way that when Obama stands in the open doorway to wave tothe crowds he is visually connected to the word ‘change’ in bold to his right, which couldhave subtle subliminal effects on spectators.  13  
  • 14.   fig 10. Comparison between original campaign plane and Obama’s re-branded plane.Ambiguous CommunicationJust as the visual communication was at times verging on being misleading and deceitful sotoo was the verbal communication of the whole campaign. Ambiguity was the techniqueused to ensure the communication was inspiring but at the same time free to individualinterpretation. From the outset of the campaign the three keywords used to inspire thenation were Hope, Change and Progress, which were the three ideals that the American  14  
  • 15.  people were so desperately seeking in 2008. Thomas (2010, p. 78) commented on howimportant this was when he remarked, “our strategy would not have worked if Obama’smessage hadn’t rung so true and hadn’t resonated so deeply with the American public”.These words however inspiring are somewhat empty unless the exact implementation of eachis explained but this was rarely the case when used by Obama. Regardless of this, theybecame woven into the visual language of the campaign to the point that the word Hope hadbecome synonymous with Obama. A news reporter commented about an Obama rally hewitnessed “Obama almost never got into specifics. It was change, change, save the country,change, yes we can, change” (Wendel, J. 2008).A False RevolutionOne of the most signature visual elements of the Obama campaign shows what a convolutedcollection of socialist, historical and patriotic visual influences went into directing thecampaign. In order to allow the global community of artists to contribute, the campaignteam initiated the Artists For Obama poster series. According to Thomas (2010, p. 127)“[the] idea was to invite artists to participate in the creation of a new kind of campaignposter, one that would be the expression of the individual artist rather than a reiteration ofcampaign materials.” The first contribution to this initiative was a poster by Shepard Faireyand to many, his invitation seemed counter intuitive. Fairey grew up in the 80’s and froman early age was influenced by skating and punk rock, both of which are classically antiestablishment and against the status quo. He built his fame by defacing public buildingswith street art but it wasn’t until the Bush presidency that his work began to be overtlypolitical. He used art to express his criticism of what the government was doing and how all-consuming mass media advertising was becoming. Regardless of this he created an art piecefor the initiative in 2008 and his campaign poster was deemed the most iconic image ofObama ever created, yet it’s unclear if the visual of Obama above the word HOPE wasintended to be ironic.  15  
  • 16.   fig 11. An example illustrating the visual similarities between the Obama ‘Hope’ poster and socialist/communist propaganda posters.The reason this poster had such an impact was due to the simple fact that visually it was sofar away from the traditional conservative campaign aesthetic everyone was used to. It had astrong connection to socialist and communist propaganda posters from the 30’s but thisirony didn’t seem to register with the mass majority. To most people this poster symbolizedthe revolution that was coming but considering the lost enthusiasm following Obama’spresidency the question is if this powerful image created a false anticipation of revolution inthe minds of the American people. Thomas (2010) commented in an interview, “I’ve kindof heard that tone, where…Shepard Fairey’s poster…had this very anti-establishmentaesthetic that could have played into the minds of those that thought this was going to be arevolution…changing Washington DC from the inside out.”  16  
  • 17.  Obama’s Cult Of PersonalityA cult of personality is formed via the use of mass media and propaganda to generate a heroicimage of an individual. By the end of Obama’s campaign it was clear that this was beginningto become reality. Imagery of Obama appeared in galleries, on billboards and around thecity as street art or graffiti, the vast majority of it in full support of him. In addition therewere huge varieties of Obama merchandise being sold by independent street vendors all overthe country. Social networks were buzzing with his name, independent bloggers werewatching his every move and grassroots events, using the same Obama visual design for flyersand posters, were happening on a daily basis. Even though the ‘visual tapestry of Obama’that had been weaved across the country was a collaborative effort from hundreds ofindividual contributors outside the reach of ‘brand control’, it still maintained high levels ofvisual consistency. This was due to the highly efficient and transparent branding principlesthat required only the use of the Obama logo and typeface to make any visual productionappear part of the overall marketing strategy.To a rock solid and seasoned democratic or republican supporter the choice of politicalcandidate would still have been easy, but people who didn’t necessarily need the programssuggested by Obama, for example upscale voters and the young demographic, wouldprobably find the high end brand image appealing and allow themselves to be swayed by itcome election time via “communication based on persuasion in which voters, lackingenduring political convictions, are induced to support a particular candidate or party atelection time” (Swanson, 2004).This would be particularly effective given the cult of personality bestowed upon Obama bythe media coverage of him and from his rock star status fuelled by regular endorsementsfrom celebrities and musicians. fig 12. Obama featured in a music video by the Black Eyed Peas that turned his slogan into an anthemIt is possible that due to this ‘Obama frenzy’ it had become fashionable to be an Obamasupporter and the thought of not voting for a candidate that was fresh, young, creative,energetic, and whose very ideals were adorning the city, seemed worthy of ridicule.Comedian Chris Rock best articulates this sentiment during one of his stand up  17  
  • 18.  performances joking, “…Cause you’ll be real embarrassed if he won and you wasn’t downwith it” (Chris Rock, 2007). Another compelling argument for the existence of thisfavoritism is raised by a Newsweek article stating, “if policy was all that mattered in [2008],Hillary Clinton wouldve won five or six of the…11 contests instead of losing them all.When it comes to specifics, theres simply not that much space between the candidates”(Romano, 2008).The Age Of DisillusionmentIt is clear that the intelligent and consistent marketing strategy that helped propel Obama tovictory may have now revealed its misleading nature due to the amount of people who havebecome disillusioned about what Obama was actually offering. “His campaign was based onthe man more than any set of ideas or clear vision of the future. Everyone knew whatReaganism stood for. No one knows what Obamaism means, which has allowed his enemiesto fill in the blank” (Packer, 2010). Packer continues to explain the current situation bystating “Obama has no larger movement behind him; the one he had ended on electionnight” (Packer, 2010). Since Obama has been in office the frenzy has subsided at an alarming rate, which has leftmany people confused as to where it went. One explanation seems to be that the campaignwas effective because it was deceitful and generated false expectations. The following articledescribes the sentiment that was developing, “there were many Americans seduced by the feelgood Madison Avenue campaign of Obama, but the trouble with hype is that after all theBS, you must be able to produce something, four years is a long time to run onhype”(Skookum, 2010). A downward spiral of disappointment, anger and lost enthusiasmswiftly followed and continued to the end of 2010. Senate elections in November saw theRepublicans taking back the House, and the American public rejected many of Obama’spolicies of ‘Change’, most notably the healthcare reform suffered a 59% opposition(although a fraction of this reflects people who didn’t think the reform went far enough). Inaddition to this, his approval rating had fallen from 65% in 2009 to 45% in 2010. Thecurrent Rasmussen right track wrong track poll as of 13-19 December 2010 shows that only23% of the American people think the country is going in the right direction compared to63% in early January 2009.The reason for such a huge turnaround in public opinion after Obama’s monumental successcan be attributed to two possibilities. Either the American public developed and overzealousexpectation of Obama and his intentions based on the strategic design of the campaign, orthey were not as open to ‘change’ as they seemed to imply. Another element contributing tothe inevitable collapse of opinion was the fact that the Obama electorate was a fracturedcoalition of people with paradoxical interests, but they were held together because the designstrategically took influences from many places to appeal to as many demographics aspossible. This is effective in attracting a large base of supporters but when the difficultdecisions have to be made more people are at risk of being disappointed.  18  
  • 19.  Since the Obama frenzy has subsided it is clear that the revolution people were hoping forhasn’t happened. In an interview with the National Journal, Shepard Fairey commented onhis plan to contribute work to help Obama in 2012 but stated “he couldn’t design the sameHope poster today, because the spirit of the Obama campaign hasn’t carried over to theObama presidency” (Madhani, 2010). A final word from Scott Thomas encapsulates thesentiment of most people regarding the meteoric raise and fall of Obama’s public image, “Itseems that whatever can or will be said about the Obama years, design does matter” (Thomas2010 p. xxiii).  19  
  • 20.  This study has drawn together many arguments that clearly show design can influence thesuccess of a political campaign. Specifically it has highlighted many techniques that weresuccessfully used by the Obama design team to take him to a historic victory in 2008followed by a monumental fall. “Ruff said, ‘He’s achieved highs no president has everachieved before and plummeting at probably the worst rate of any president I’ve ever seen inmy lifetime, and I’ve been around a long time.’ Ruff is nearly 80” (Mondoreb, 2010). Thisshowed that without real substance design trickery could not continue to generate falseexpectations indefinitely. Regardless of this even people with strong convictions were swayedby the compelling design but finally “independents and Democrats are admitting tothemselves that the Obama image [created] is nothing more than an allusion that theywanted to believe, against common sense” (Skookum, 2010).Looking to the future at the 2012 elections it is unclear if Obama will run again but manypolitical pundits are already predicting he won’t “No, Obama won’t run in 2012, althoughhe’ll be coy about it for at least a year.” (Mondoreb, 2010). Regardless of who runs it isunsettling to concede that today’s political landscape is almost completely media andmarketing centric, which means it is impossible to run a straight up campaign that iscompletely honest and without the creation of false expectations. This is a historicalmoment in political campaign design as the full possibilities of harnessing all forms of mediahave finally been demonstrated and will undoubtedly be emulated from now on. This raisesan important question regarding what it takes to win an election. Traditionally it wasmainly the strength of the policies that would draw people to the polling booth; in 2012 itcould be more about the brand image. John Stewart articulates this concern perfectly whenhe suggests, “the campaigns are now so intricate and so all consuming that the ability it takesto win a campaign is not the same skill set to govern and are we raising a generation ofleaders that can win campaigns but not adequately govern?” (Stewart, 2009).  20  
  • 21.  Adolphsen, M. (2008) Branding in Election Campaigns: Just a buzzword or a New Quality ofPolitical Communication?. Published MSc dissertation. London School of Economics andPolitical Science.Bratt, E. and Smith, K. (2009) The Obama Playbook: How digital marketing & social mediawon the election. [Online]. Available at:http://www.marketingprofs.com/store/product/20/the-obama-playbook-how-digital-marketing-and-social-media-won-the-election (Accessed: 20 December 2010).Carter, D. (2008) Obama’s Online Campaign: A Top-Down Brand sensation, or Bottom-UpRevolutionary?. Unpublished Thesis.Chris Rock (2007) Chris Rock Introduces Barack Obama. YouTube. [Download]. Available at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PW7EbURS2h4&feature=player_embedded#! (Accessed:23 October 2010).Deborah, L.G. (2001) ‘Voting Preferences and the Environment in the American Electorate’,Society and Natural Resources, 14, pp. 455-469.Fobes, S. (2008) A War of Illusions. Available at:http://warofillusions.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/so-what-does-the-obama-logo-mean-anyway/ (Accessed: 21 December 2010).Lamar, M. (2010) Spiral16. Available at: http://www.spiral16.com/blog/2010/09/social-media-political-marketing-virtualization (Accessed: 21 December 2010)Madhani, A. (2010) ‘Famed Obama ‘Hope’ poster artist losing hope’, Yahoo News, 24September [Online]. Available at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews_excl/ynews_excl_pl3712(Accessed: 21 November 2010).McGirt, E. (2008) ‘The Brand Called Obama’, Fast Company, 19 March [Online]. Availableat: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/124/the-brand-called-obama.html (Accessed: 22October 2010).Mondoreb (2010) ‘Unconventional Wisdom: Barack Obama Can’t Win, Won’t Run in2010’, Death by 1000 paper cuts, 22 November. Available at:http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2010/11/unconventional-wisdom-barack-obama-cant-win-wont-run-in-2012/ (Accessed: 22 December 2010).Packer, G. (2010) ‘Tom Perriello’s lonely battle’, ‘The New Yorker’, 20 October. Availableat: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/10/tom-perriello-midterms.html (Accessed: 25 November 2010).  21  
  • 22.  Rawsthorn, A. (2008) ‘Brand Obama, a leader in the image war’, The New York Times, 4June [Online]. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/04/arts/04iht-design7.html?_r=3 (Accessed: 21 December 2010).Romano, A. (2008) ‘Expertinent: Why the Obama “Brand” is Working’, Newsweek, 27February [Online]. Available at:http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/stumper/2008/02/27/expertinent-why-the-obama-quot-brand-quot-is-working.html (Accessed: 20 December 2010).Skookum (2010) ‘Obama’s ‘Hope Poster’ Artist, Says It’s Hopless’, Flopping Aces, 25September. Available at: http://www.floppingaces.net/2010/09/25/obamas-hope-poster-artist-says-its-hopeless/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+FloppingAces+%28Flopping+Aces%29 (Accessed: 21 November 2010).Stewart, J. (2009) The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Comedy Central [Download]. Availableat: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-november-3-2009/david-plouffe (Accessed: 15October 2010).Thee, M. (2009) ‘Poll: Record High for Wrong-Track Rating’, The New York Times, 14October [Online]. Available at: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/14/poll-record-high-for-wrong-track-rating/ (Accessed: 23 December 2010).Thomas, S. (2010) Designing Obama. U.S.A: Post Press.Thomas, S. (2009) Scott Thomas: Designing the Obama Campaign. Vimeo [Download].Available at: http://vimeo.com/5943199 (Accessed: 22 October 2010)Thomas, S. (2010) ‘Personal Interview’. Interviewed by Jamie Foulston for The influence ofdesign on political campaign success, 26 Oct.Wendel, J. (2008) ‘Obama: Cult of Personality?’, The Group News Blog, 12 February.Available at: http://www.groupnewsblog.net/2008/02/obama-cult-of-personality.html(Accessed: 21 November 2010).  22  
  • 23.  Fig 1. Page 4, image montage using logos from 4President.orgFig 2. Page 5, collection of screen captures from a YouTube videoFig 3. Page 6, screen capture from a Vimeo videoFig 4. Page 7, screen capture from a Vimeo videoFig 5. Page 8, extracted from the ‘Designing Obama’ bookFig 6. Page 9, montage using Google imagesFig 7. Page 11, extracted from the ‘Designing Obama’ bookFig 8. Page 12, montage using Google imagesFig 9. Page 13, taken from Google imagesFig 10. Page 14, image montage using a SunTimes blog as referenceFig 11. Page 16, montage using Google imagesFig 12. Page 17, collection of screen captures from a YouTube video  23  

×