by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
"Advertising doesn't create a product advantage. It can only convey it." William Bernbach
The logos created for the men campaigning for president are still on my mind--something is unresolved. The issue haunts like trying to figure out what's missing from a painting in-progress--so it sits on the easel, day after day, waiting for that aha moment. More often than not it's something small--a simple color transition or shape correction--but the impact big. Yesterday, as if looking for an answer and out of idle curiosity, I decided to visit the websites of Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney. Interesting. Analysis follows.
As I've written time and again, what goes on in our visual world, whether consciously observed and processed or not, influences how we think and behave. And when it comes to selling something--whether idea, product, or person--visual advertising is big business. It's big business because it works.
Nothing done in advertising is accidental. The size, shape, color, and placement of every single element, from font to face, in an ad is carefully considered before publication--it's all researched, tested, refined, scrutinized, and refined some more by sundry experts from diverse fields in arts and sciences. Even then ads are typically beta tested in specific markets before going regional, national, and international. The right ad can be a moneymaker. The wrong ad can be disastrous. So it's best to find out going small before flopping big.
What I saw and concluded flipping between the Obama and Romney websites homepages was telling about each man and their priority. The websites reinforce what's been offered in recent commentaries: 'The Art of the Presidency' and 'Mr. Obama's Punctuation Goof!--Period?' (see Post Script for links).
Mr. Romney's website (www.mittromney.com) homepage...
Welcomes the visitor to 'America's Comeback Team'--Romney/Ryan. Four large images on a couple second delay individually slide across the screen right to left. In each photograph our American flag is prominent--our colors setting a tone. Another small photograph has a long runner of red, white, and blue bunting as backdrop. The not-so-subliminal message: We, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, are about America--home of the red, white, and blue.
The emphasis is on the Romney/Ryan team. There's link to 'The Romney Plan.' And yet there's a link to perspective on Mr. Obama but it is merely a small part of the homepage not the focus. The focus is on America and restoring our greatness.
Mr. Obama's website (www.barackobama.com)...
At the top of the homepage is Obama/Biden (the "O" logo between the names) and the still perplexing Forward.--with a period--slogan.
Conspicuously absent is our flag. And there I pause to repeat. Conspicuously absent is our flag.
There is not a single American flag on the page. Not one flag! Our sitting president, and candidate for reelection, does not have our flag on his website? Why? Though in full disclosure there does appear to be a U. S. flag lapel pin on Mr. Obama's jacket. By no means is it eye-catching. In fact, I visited the site more than half a dozen times before picking up on it. And I'm still not certain it's a U. S. flag. But the omission of our colors was not an oversight. Disowning America? Afraid of offending someone?
No flags. Yet there are three white, red, and sickly blue "O" logos--top to bottom. What other conclusion is there to draw but "I"?
Furthermore, there is a monotone screened down photograph of Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan, with red striping, labeled 'The Go Back Team.' Why is that insult necessary? Add a Romney tax calculator and a string of disparaging articles about Mr. Romney's vice president choice and about that man, Mr. Ryan, and there you have Mr. Obama's website homepage.
What's missing? Other than our flag? How about something, anything, Mr. Obama has achieved while in office? So, Mr. Obama is in essence saying, "I failed. But let me point out my opponents faults." Is it not peculiar there's more about Romney/Ryan on the Obama website homepage than Obama/Biden? If you can't run on accomplishments, run down the opponent--a strategy and tactic Americans are tired of watching. Simply, the president's website is not presidential.
Mr. Romney's website and message is that he's about our United States of America and is committed to returning to the principles upon which founded--outlined by our Founding Fathers in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He's proudly waving our flag--a blue field with bright white five-point stars and red and white stripes that generations of Americans have bled and died for and are bleeding and dying for as I write. He's a patriot.
Mr. Obama's website and message, irrespective of what he says, reads as he could care less about the United States of America as founded and built. A fair deduction considering he is void the critical imprinting of America during youth. Mr. Obama's message is about him. He's waving. Has anyone figured out what or who Mr. Obama is or where he comes from? Anyone?
So America's choice could not be more clear. Per William Bernbach, author of today's opening thought, the candidates have conveyed themselves to the American people.
Will it be...
A man with vision for America?
Or, a man suffering myopia--"I" strain?
Now is all this about websites, logos, and messages important? It is. I am talking about the core, the heart, of each man. An impression. A statement about who they are--their character and what they stand for. Absolutely, there's all the other big complicated matters, domestic and foreign, in play. However, the most basic and simplest of things matter--they're big.
To scoffers quick to dismiss that inattention to small things, even logos and websites and messages, can lead to big consequences, let's not forget--a small "O" ring brought down a space shuttle. So might a small "O" ring that worked four years ago fail on 06 November? Keep in mind, that "O" ring was not designed to fit a failed presidency. Standby for an explosion!
84 days and counting...
Now please excuse me, an in-progress painting resting on the easel is missing something.
'The Art of the Presidency'
'Mr. Obama's Punctuation Goof!--Period?'
'The Election--It's Over--The R's Have It!'