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August 15, 2005

The (unspoken) politics of brands

Driving to a session the other day, I spotted a Honda zipping down the trafficway with a multitude of bumpstickers on it. The messages on the stickers would lead you to believe that the person driving (or at least in charge of sticking) leaned significantly to the right on practically every issue you might wish to take a position on. I think I noticed at first because it was one of those cars that takes bumperstickering to the extreme. Not due to the message but rather to the sheer number of stickers populating the back end of the vehicle.

But something else felt off.

And it struck on me that I (at least) associate Honda with people who lean to the left. I asked a few friends of both left-leaning and right-leaning peruasions and they all agreed that Honda was a "blue" brand.

Now, most brands (like American Copywriter) strive to be politically agnostic in public. So what it is about Honda? The envirnonmental efforts? The Richard Dryfess VO? Why did this brand become part of the tribal dress for the left-leaning tribe?

We will not debate politics on this site. So, don't get too snarky here (please). But we're curious: Which brands are blue and which brands are red? And what are the deep (always unspoken) cues that make them so?


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The guys over at American Copywriter have taken on a topic that has been on our blog to-do list for awhile. So we figured it time to go ahead and explore the topic of political correctness and it's influence over [Read More]


I think it is safe to say that whether or not the users of the product are blue or red, Apple is definitly thought of as a blue company.

You only have to look to Steve Jobs advising John Kerry, or how Al Gore is on Apple's board of directors.

Perception may be a different matter, but you can go to buyblue.org and see the percentages major companies and brands donate to liberal causes.

If you watch Honda's (fantastic) uk adverts then they most certainly appear to be a left brand. (in the uk we would associate red with left, and blue with right!)

Hummer's brand is so red I believe an oil derrick is an available option (on the higher end models, of course).

I'm not sure if Hummer is completely red... they may want it to be, but I think of all the crazy entertainment-type clients they have (bball players, rappers, etc) and I'd have to say they're probably more blue than red. Remember, a brand is not what the company says it is. :)

This has always puzzled me: is Wal-Mart red or blue? Wal-Mart haters seem to be exclusively blue and want to portray Wal-Mart as red, but aren't Wal-Mart shoppers both blue and red -- driven not by ideology but by the need to buy diapers cheap? It seems like too many people shop there to be just one or the other.

Yes, I think it's easy to label Wal-Mart as a red brand, but I'm not sure it's a badge like the Honda example.

I think Wal Mart (this is my perception from the UK remember) tries to be a blue brand, but its dodgy work practices and conservative approach to what it allows on its shelves put it firmly in the red camp.

Put me down for Wal-Mart red. Honda I thought of as red, but an old Honda Civic from 20 years ago, still on the road today and covered with bumper stickers, I'd think blue. Budweiser, Red. Anchor Steam, Blue. Ford F-150, Red. VW Vanagon, Blue. Volvo, Blue. Audi and BMW, Red (but country club red, not social conservative red). Camaro, red.

Of course these are merely impressions that I certainly aren't universal.

Hummer buyers aren't red or blue. Nor purple. They're apolitical and generally uninterested in politics. Though Arnold throws that argument off a bit, I feel anyone willing to embrace the Hummer as their vehicle of choice doesnt' care about anyone but themselves. Professional athletes are notorious republicans because of their tax bracket and their homophobia.

Wal-Mart is a tough one. It's a red company, no doubt, but living here in New Orleans, Wal-Mart has had a positive influence. They just built a new one in a relatively bad neighborhood, next to some new section 8 housing projects. Besides the jobs it has provided, it's brought a regular flow of commerce traffic to the area and with it, a stronger police presence.

But are those Wal Mart jobs not paying people low wages when the area could potentially harvest better jobs?

Ive heard (not being in the US) that Wal Mart treats it's staff pretty appallingly... and that can't be good for those who need the jobs badly.

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