Wednesday, April 16, 2008

You Are What You Eat . . . or Drink . . . etc.

Did you ever get the feeling that, increasingly, political campaigns are packaged like any other consumer product? Well, turns out, you're right! As this article in today's New York Times explains, it comes down to microtargeting:

If there’s butter and white wine in your refrigerator and Fig Newtons in the cookie jar, you’re likely to vote for Hillary Clinton. Prefer olive oil, Bear Naked granola and a latte to go? You probably like Barack Obama, too.

And if you’re leaning toward John McCain, it’s all about kicking back with a bourbon and a stuffed crust pizza while you watch the Democrats fight it out next week in Pennsylvania.

If what we eat says a lot about who we are, it also says something about how we might vote.

Although precincts and polls are being parsed, the political advisers to the presidential candidates are also looking closely at consumer behavior, including how people eat, as a way to scavenge for votes. The practice is called microtargeting, as much political discipline as buzzword. The idea is that in the brand-driven United States, what we buy and how we spend our free time is a good predictor of our politics.
Like any tool of political campaigns, there's no consensus on whether microtargeting has any real value at the end of the day. For example:
For example, Dr Pepper is a Republican soda. Pepsi-Cola and Sprite are Democratic. So are most clear liquors, like gin and vodka, along with white wine and Evian water. Republicans skew toward brown liquors like bourbon or scotch, red wine and Fiji water.

* * *

Jeff Navin, managing director of American Environics, a progressive research and strategy firm, agrees.

'Knowing that your base drinks gin doesn’t give you a clear idea on how to communicate with them effectively on issues,' he said. 'But if you take it a level deeper and say, are there psychological drivers that will help understand the values behind the behavior, you can speak to those values and persuade voters.'
Presumably you do it with a glass full of Tanqueray, right? I guess that explains Duhbya's past appeal as the guy voters want to have a beer with, tho'.

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