The Art Of The Campaign

Last night’s debate was, amongst many other things, a sign that we are nearing the final stretch of what has been (regardless of which side you’re on) an interminable, exhausting, overwhelming Presidential campaign. We can all agree that this sure has been long, and the end can’t come soon enough — although given the nature of this race, we probably can’t even agree on that.

There have been highs and lows, and then lows still farther down, and then depths we’d never thought such campaigns could reach (and there’s still time!). This is not the forum for politics, though. Nor is it the forum, for that matter, for emails, hairstyles, Atlantic City casinos, walls, or Putin. You don’t have to go far to read about any of those things.

Let’s take a temporary breather from scrutinizing foreign policy (or lack thereof) and the outcome of last night’s debate, and turn our attention to the methods and means that the campaigns have employed to share their respective messages. It’s not just about speeches; there’s also social media. It’s not about delegates; there’s also design. There is a look and feel to each campaign that says a lot about what the candidates represent — or, at least, what they want to.

It reflects the voters, too, and from music to film, that which lies outside of politics still plays a role and can be tangentially political too.

Also, I lied: the hairstyles matter. It’s all a part of the art of the campaign.

Logos

The Trump-Pence ticket got off to an inauspicious start when they unveiled what many felt was a poorly designed logo. Many too thought that, considering Trump’s aggressive personality and his habit of regularly talking over Pence in their first joint interview, that the logo was incredibly apt. That’s because the ‘T’ in Trump was, let’s say, ‘dominating’ the ‘P’ in Pence.

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For Hillary, like most things about her, her logo is something either you love or you hate. It’s either simple and elegant, or cold and esoteric. But it’s nothing in between.

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He’s not in the race anymore, but special mention has to go to the former governor of Florida, because no better logo captured irony like Mr. Bush’s ‘Jeb!’. Maybe it’s a man running for President. Maybe it’s a chain of fat-free yogurt restaurants. Whatever it stands for, it’s hysterical.

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Slogans

The Clinton campaign edges out the Trump campaign when it comes to social media and catchy slogans. Both campaigns have utilized a singular phrase over and over again to identify their cause. In one corner, you have ‘Make America Great Again,’ a four-word slogan that may work on a bumper sticker, but limits social media capability; that’s a lot of characters to use up regularly. What’s more, it’s ripe for parody, because those clever users out there can easily decide to make America anything they want again.

In the other corner, we’ve ‘I’m With Her.’ Something more succinct, direct, and powerful. It works on shirts, stickers, pins, and social media, and at least upon hearing it for the first time, it’s not especially easy to mock. Unless, of course, you hate her.

Apparel

This may be the first campaign ever where a major candidate makes regular appearances wearing a baseball cap. On any other politician running for high office this would be seen as patronizing and ridiculous. And while yes, Trump wearing his ‘MAGA’ hat does seem out of place—especially considering he’s wearing a suit or sport coat when he’s donning it—for whatever reason, it seems to work. It’s the Michael Moore look; i.e., if you’re a loud, away from centre campaigner, you adorn yourself with a cap to make it seem like you’re one of the commoners.

On the other hand, it’s probably safe to say that Clinton has the best unofficial t-shirts available. Not sure which creative genius came up with these, but well done indeed.

Music

Clinton has an official playlist! So that’s something. It’s not really a playlist you would queue up at any party, though; it’s got a general theme of inspiration, with a lot of anthems and pieces of uplifting work from various artists that make sure Clinton covers all her demographics. From John Legend to Demi Lovato, from Michael Bolton to Junaes, Clinton’s list satisfies the Democratic voter checklist.

While it’s especially clear that she has more celebrities on her side, and more talented celebrities (sorry Scott Baio), she also has more celebrities that can sing. Her campaign number is ‘Fight Song,’ another in what is a growing list of a capella music videos with pretty colours and lots of famous people popping in and out, with appearances from Elizabeth Banks, Aisha Taylor, Kristen Chenoweth, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, among others.

Trump meanwhile, has a list of great music — really great music. Just tremendous. From Queen to The Beatles, and even the soundtrack to ‘Air Force One,’ his campaign events are aurally entertaining. The problem is, they’re sort of like one-time-only secret shows. That’s because most of the artists, upon realizing Trump is using their music, tell him to stop immediately. R.E.M., Adele, Steven Tyler, and Elton John are among the many talented artists who have not approved Trump using their music. But it sure was hysterical when he played ‘It’s The End of the World as We Know It’ ahead of a campaign stop. Indeed.

Films

These aren’t so much in favour of one campaign, but rather against the other. This year, Clinton saw the release of two documentaries attempting to tarnish her: Hillary’s America and Clinton Cash. The former has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 4% of the 25 people who submitted reviews, while the other has no score and few reviews to its name.

Two notable anti-Trump documentaries have come out in the last five years, both by British filmmaker Anthony Baxter. They are sequels of sorts, the first being You’ve Been Trumped and the second A Dangerous Game, with both detailing Trump’s love for building golf courses and not caring about people. For what it’s worth, the first doc has a RT rating of 84%, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.

Hairstyles

I mean, what’s there to say?