The Marketing Of Presidential Candidates Using Trademarks and Campaign Slogans


     By The Law Offices of R. Sebastian Gibson

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The author of this article analyzes how candidates use slogans to market themselves to the voters. The writer also looks at trademarking and copyrighting slogans and advertising materials in the past and what might be tried in future election campaigns.

No matter where you live in America, unless you never turn on the television or read a newspaper, you have been bombarded by campaign slogans in the 2008 Presidential election.

Marketing experts know that the best way for a product or a candidate to be remembered is with a slogan or platform that is succinct and easy to remember.

In addition, a great slogan can be trademarked for use on products such as clothing, mugs, etc. Many people do not recall this, but when Barry Goldwater ran for President, they actually gave out or sold cans of "Goldwater" a soft drink at his rallies and other events.

In this 2008 Presidential Election, recently there has been some publicity given to two boxes of cereals named after the candidates. Obama O’s promises Hope In Every Bowl. Cap’n McCains promises A Maverick In Every Bite.

One has to wonder if, when a candidate in the future creates an original slogan for his or her election in the future, it wouldn’t be worthwhile trying to trademark the slogan for use on products and to copyright the advertising materials using the slogan to prevent the relentless variations made of a good slogan by other candidates.

So far in this Presidential campaign, the slogans have been less than memorable. In fact with each candidate stealing or using variations of the same slogans each other has used or slogans that were used against them in the primary, none of the candidates marketing experts have done them a real service.

First, look at the ever changing slogans of Hillary Clinton which may have contributed to her downfall. First she had “Renewing the Promise of America” followed by “In to Win,” “Working for Change, Working for You,” “The Strength and Experience to Make Change Happen,” and “The Change We Need.” Somewhere along the way, there was also “Ready for Change, Ready to Lead.”

The changes in campaign slogans by Hillary Clinton were so many and so often, that columnists were commenting if it was a new week, it was time for a new slogan.

Obama’s slogans have been fewer in number but faced with the many “Change” slogans used in the primaries by Hillary Clinton, his slogans of “Yes We Can” “Change We Can Believe In” and “Change We Need” have all failed to be memorable. His success as a candidate is acknowledged to be due to his own charisma, rather than that of his slogans.

McCain has had fewer slogans, and has primarily used “Country First” and “Change is Coming.” The “First” slogan was better for not using the word “Change” in it. It sounds patriotic and fit the candidate. But somewhere along the way, for better or more likely for the worse, some marketing expert convinced the campaign they needed to confuse the public’s perception of who would bring change and separate themselves from George Bush and so they added the slogan, “Change is Coming” which could be the worst of all the “Change” slogans because, duh, with either candidate, George Bush will be out and one of the two guys running will be in.

If these slogans are the best that almost unlimited campaign money can buy, one has to wonder if the campaigns shouldn’t have gone to additional marketing agencies, or attorneys to come up with their slogans. Even Barry Goldwater in 1964 had “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right” which quickly became parodied with “In Your Guts, You Know He’s Nuts,” either one of which would have been better than “Change blah blah blah blah blah.”

If this year is all about the economy, where are slogans today like “It’s The Economy, Stupid” and “Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?” We all know change is coming. The economy is in the tank. Use a slogan that promises a better life, or if you have to be negative, at least blame the economic conditions on the other party’s candidate and use something we can all remember, like “This Is All His Fault” or let us know how the candidate really feels about the other’s leadership skills and use, “He Can’t Lead Us Out Of A Wet Paper Bag.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: R. Sebastian Gibson
Sebastian Gibson graduated cum laude at UCLA in 1972 and received law degrees in the U.S. and the U.K., graduating with an LL.B. magna cum laude from University College, Cardiff in Wales and a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law.

Mr. Gibson began his legal career in San Diego before practicing for years in London, England. Today, he has offices in Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert, Newport Beach, and the firm’s Of Counsel office is in Carlsbad, San Diego.

Mr. Gibson’s firm practices law in a wide variety of areas of law including trademark law throughout Southern California from San Diego, Orange County, Irvine, Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, La Jolla, Temecula, Buena Park, Riverside, San Bernardino, Indio, Chula Vista, Escondido, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Oxnard, San Luis Obispo, Indian Wells, Fullerton, Orange, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Newport Beach to Carlsbad.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.



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