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Can You Guess Which Brand Names Are Associated With Each Candidate?


Word association games are not only amusing, they're revealing. The words someone associates with certain persons or places speaks volumes about the respondent and it says a great deal about how things are perceived.

And a word association game involving the 2012 presidential candidates, their spouses, and brand name products is no different.

"Presidential candidates are advertised as heavily as consumer products, so it's little surprise that voters have opinions on how President Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney compare to consumer brands," writes Martha T. Moore for USA Today.

"In a survey by Landor, a brand-identity firm, and pollsters Penn Schoen Berland, likely voters were asked to associate the two men with brand names in a variety of categories,” she explains.

What did Landor and Penn Schoen Berland hope to find with their survey?

The survey results "tell us exactly what people think they know about the candidate," managing director of Penn Schoen Berland Billy Mann told USA Today. "Who you think you know is how you vote."

Now keep in mind this survey reveals nothing factual about the candidates. Instead, it reveals how they're perceived by the general public or, rather, how the general public chooses to perceive them.

So what does the survey tell us? What products do people associate with President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney?

Magazine & Game

Respondents associated President Obama with People Magazine and chess, Gov. Romney with Bussinessweek and Monopoly.

Search Engine & Social Media

Respondents associated President Obama with Google and Facebook, Gov. Romney with Bing and LinkedIn.

Sport & Season

Respondents associated President Obama with basketball and summer, Gov. Romney with golf (really???) and winter.

Clothing Brand & Car

Respondents associated President Obama with Nike and Ford, Gov. Romney with Armani and BMW.

Coffee & Dessert

Respondents associated President Obama with home brewed coffee and apple pie, Gov. Romney with Starbucks and apple pie

And for good measure, the survey asked respondents to associate the spouses of both candidates with popular brands:

Spouses: Department Stores & Clothing Brand

Respondents associated First Lady Michelle Obama with Macy’s and J. Crew, Ann Romney with Saks Fifth Avenue and Ralph Lauren.

The funny things about this survey is that the roles have been reversed from 2008. Back then, respondents associated then-Sen. Obama with "yup-scale brands" such as BMW and Terra Chips, USA Today notes. It was Sen. John McCain who was associated with the "middlebrow" brands such Ford and Cheetos.

"Four years later, the Gucci loafer is on the other foot. Compared with Romney, whose wealth has been a focus throughout the campaign, Obama is associated with middlebrow brands such as Ford, Budweiser and J.C. Penney," Moore writes.

"It's Romney, the survey says, whom people associate with high-end and high-life brands: Ritz Carlton, Armani and Saks Fifth Avenue," she adds.

Again, as mentioned in the above, this is their public perception. So what does this say about how the candidate’s have been marketed to the public?

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

(H/T: Landor; Penn Schoen Berland; USA TODAY; photos courtesy the AP.)

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