How Do You Design a Presidential Campaign

Barack Obama’s campaign will be remembered in the pages of history for undoubtedly a few reasons.

One of those reasons will be the design and advertising component to the campaign.  In a word, it was done “masterfully”.

The Obama presidential campaign was an innovation in American politics and American design. For the first time, a candidate used art and design to bring together the American people—capturing their voices in a visual way.  See some spreads below from the book “Designing Obama”.  It’s currently sold out and not in production.




  • Lorraine Cinquina  

    I think that Oprah had a bit to do with it as well. She had never before spoken out and backed a presidential candidate. This time she did and her millions of followers voted.

  • Mat Bartnik  

    Completely agree with your comment that it was done masterfully. I was in the US when he won the Democratic candidacy over Clinton and everything regarding his campaign, from slogans to speeches and of course the visual elements you mention, were so well done.

    Intentional or not, so much of the design had viral appeal much like the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ posters you mention in another post. People could change the ‘Progress’ posters to feature their own faces and creative images like the ‘Superman/Einstein’ one at the bottom of the post were being created and shared all over the social platforms.

    A very different setup in terms of making your run to the PM position in Australia as opposed to the Presidency in the US but I have wondered on a number of occasions whether a similar campaign would be successful in Australia.

    ‘Kevin 07’ has probably been the most successful from a marketing and branding perspective IMO but there is a ton of room to improve in that area on this side of the world. Maybe the next Federal election we will see a clever and positive brand as opposed to the negative tactics we usually see.

    • john  

      Great thoughts Mat. I think there are a lot of reasons that Obama was voted into power, and it’s a deeply complex topic to say the least when you look at the process of him being elected to candicacy and then into the white house, but it certainly can’t be ignored that the “Obama” brand became a steam train of popularity that worked to give him a popular public perception. He was for the first time in a long time, a unique and interesting product to market, and market him they did. As a designer, this book is a pleasure to look through – it was done with elegance and taste.

      Kevin 07 was a revolutionary step in Australian politics branding, and unfortunately not one that was repeated in the next election. It gave Kevin the political “x factor’ appeal that he desperately needed. You’re right in saying it was a step in the right direction, but I fear one that will be forgotten. Political advertising in Australia is like watching a primary school play ground debate. It’s just petty name-calling and scare-tactics, and as someone passionate about branding, it’s a sad scene to watch. Focus on selling something positive, not selling the negatives of your opponent.

  • Mat Bartnik  

    You’re definitely right, it’s a much more complex issue than the branding we are discussing. It really was fascinating to watch in the US though; the sheer size of his events and press conferences was amazing.

    Unfortunately I agree with your thoughts on the ‘Kevin 07’ campaign being forgotten. When your campaign to win power is driven by negative tactics, what does that say about your values as a leader?

    After a positive campaign, Obama has continued as a positive leader. Hillary Clinton was his main democratic rival and clearly a highly capable candidate. Rather than cutting her down during her rival campaign he focussed on his own policies. Then once elected President he brought Clinton on board as the Secretary of State, assuring he had the best people around him.

    The whole campaign was a really great lesson on representing yourself in politics, business and life.

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