Campaign Signs And Brand Awareness

11/01/10 12:44PM By Tim Johnson
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(HOST) The election season is in the home stretch with candidates working overtime for every vote. But VPR's Tim Johnson is scratching his head with every campaign sign he sees.

(TIM) I was driving to work recently and there on the side of the road was a candidate for political office waving at cars as they went by. It's an odd spectacle; people in places they're not supposed to be, hoping to make eye contact with strangers and maybe have them wave, or better, honk their horn so others can hear it. But I honestly couldn't tell you why they're doing it.

Maybe it's a candidate's own personal poll on how many people are supporting them. I can't imagine it's a reliable bellwether of the neighborhood.

To tell you the truth, I feel the same way about people who stand on streets waving at cars dressed as giant cell phones, or peanuts or bowling balls. What's the point? I usually end up feeling kind of bad for them - that someone has forced them to do this kind of thing to drum up business.

Does standing around waving with a bunch of placard-carrying campaign workers really get people elected?

It's a lot like seeing six or eight campaign signs lined up on someone's front lawn. I never quite know what I'm supposed to think about that either. Do people vote for someone because of campaign signs or bumper stickers?

Why would anyone care who I'm voting for? They're not going to change their vote because of signs on my front lawn.

Maybe people who put campaign sings on their lawn are hoping candidates will feel it will be a friendly place to stand and wave at cars.

My favorite thing is when people put an entire grouping of signs on their lawn with all the candidates they are voting for. I guess I'm supposed to stop and take notes so I know where to put my X

And that's thing that scares me the most about election season - that political signs, bumper stickers and candidates smiling and waving on the side of the road are so people remember a brand name when they go into the booth, even though they may not know anything about the candidate.

It's an old successful advertising ploy - Long Term Brand Awareness. You see it every day from some of the biggest companies in America. Keep advertising. Keep the product in the consumer's mind so when they finally are standing in the supermarket aisle, they remember that brand of beer, or face cream or kitchen cleanser.

This election day, I'm kind of hoping that when people draw the little red, white and blue curtain, they're not going to be thinking of hundreds of signs and grinning politicians waving on the side of the road.

I hope they don't care who their neighbors are voting for, but rather who their candidates really are and what they stand for.

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