A poll released today made me chuckle. The research amongst voters matches political leaders to their consumer brand equivalents. Gordon Brown was voted most like a Volvo – the brand we all love to ridicule – unless you own one of course! Our own Nick Clegg was voted most like the Co-op – a smaller and principled challenger brand standing up to the other bigger players with integrity and community presence.
Gordon Brown has been voted the Volvo of UK politics in a poll conducted by brand consultants New Brand Tribalism (NBT). The survey, which asked respondents to match political figureheads to well known brands, found that 35% of respondents believe the hardy, yet dull and dated values of the Volvo brand best represent Labour leader Brown. Consumers also linked Brown with run-of-the-mill brands Ford and MG Rover, taking 31% and 20% of the vote respectively, with high-end brands such as Ferrari and Bentley taking just 10% of the total votes.
The poll, which quizzed 1,000 voters throughout the UK, also questioned respondents on their opinions of the main opposition leaders. The Conservative Party’s David Cameron was voted most like a Nokia phone – a one-time dominant brand, which has lost its sparkle and is desperately trying to win it back – arguably with little success. Consumers most associated Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, with the Co-op brand – a smaller and principled challenger brand standing up to the other bigger players with integrity and community presence.
“The 2010 general election is marking the end of old-style tribal politics and the beginnings of a new voting consumerism driven by new brand conscious tribes,” says Tim Bleszynski, founder, New Brand Tribalism. “As consumers, we’ve got used to having genuine choice, identifying with brand led differentiation and it is clear the reams of paper and thousands of words of commentary aren’t doing enough to differentiate politicians or evoke belief in their brands. “
“Our independent survey demonstrates the ease with which consumers can attribute certain characteristics to brands and what they stand for and use these to make buying decisions and not the nitty-gritty specifics of policies and numbers for which most people do not care for nor understand.”
NBT argues that that the political process is out of date as increasingly savvy brand-aware consumers understand how to choose a brand they believe in. Voters are no longer focussed on the functional or class-based matters of politics; they are more inclined to relate to politicians and parties as brands and cast their vote based on pre-conscious gut instincts, believability and the authenticity that the brands offer.
“The 2010 general election is marking the end of old-style politics and the beginnings of a new voting consumerism. Many big consumer brands like Virgin and Apple don’t sell to consumers; consumers choose to buy into these brands for their openness, inclusiveness and believability. None of the UK political parties have yet learned to emulate such dynamics and with the last round of television debates about to be played out, it’s the first one that does so, and recognises that voters are sophisticated consumers, will certainly reap the rewards in this general election and the ones to come,” says Tim Bleszynski.
This election may lead to a hung parliament this time around but what about next time? Five years from now: who wouldn’t bet on a political landscape with as many legitimate political parties and causes as we have brands in the high street – all capable of taking on the big established brands?
“This election people aren’t voting for change….they’re voting for choice”, concludes Tim Bleszynski.
The independent research was carried out by Loudhouse Research between 22nd – 23rd April 2010.