Joe Biden bigger than the iPad? Paul Ryan close to overtaking Starbucks? Conventional wisdom says that in the U.S., elections take a back seat to consumerism. But not lately.
The Crowdwire launched with a look at Obama and Romney as brands. Presidential candidates are not typical brands, and far more is at stake in this election than in the battle between, say, McDonald’s and Burger King.
Yet branding is essential to every presidential campaign, because in order to win the people’s vote you first have to get their attention. As we noted, that’s not easy:
"In their efforts to get our attention and win us over, the candidates are competing not just with each other, but with the teeming thousands of brands that populate everyday life.”
To make the sale, Romney and Obama have used the most sophisticated tools of the marketplace, including the more than $1 billion worth of television ads that filled the airwaves in the crucial swing states.
How have they done in the brand war? Social media helped us answer this question. Growing numbers of people go on social platforms regularly to talk about every imaginable subject, including both consumer brands and political ones.
So, using analytical tools developed by Bluefin Labs, we tracked how Brand Romney and Brand Obama have performed, in terms of social-media awareness, against about 600 of the largest consumer brands.
Last summer, before the party conventions and the debates, we were surprised to see the political brands already dominating. In our first analysis, Obama was at the top of the list, followed by the iPhone in second place and Romney in third.
In September, on the heels of the GOP convention, we ran the data again and discovered that Romney had moved up to second place.
Now, on the eve of the election, the top two brands are the same: Obama first, followed by Romney. But since the last update, the presidential contenders have pulled far away from the competition. The iPhone drew less than half as many social mentions as either candidate during the three-month period covered - which included the release of the iPhone 5.
Meanwhile, there are two new arrivals in the Top Ten: Paul Ryan and Joe Biden. The vice presidential candidates are, in their own right, now top brands. This is due, at least in part, to the vice presidential debate, which sparked a great deal of social discussion.
More broadly, Biden and Ryan are important players in an election that has riveted the social audience. Even the iPad couldn’t compete with that.
To read our caveats about political brands, please see the first post in this series.