Print Politics

John McCain Poster Design Contest

Is there such thing as 'Republican' poster style?

I was poking around on TPM this morning – always a great source for campaign advertising news – when I came across an election poster from the McCain campaign.

Blogger Josh Marshall points out that the head and shoulders poking through the clouds seem to imply that McCain is running “a campaign to be elected God.”

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Intrigued, I immediately had to know where the poster came from.
Some more digging around revealed that the Republican campaign – perhaps inspired by the poster printing of its Dem counterpart – is holding a poster design contest. Ten finalists have been chosen – McCain in the Clouds being one of them – and you can vote for your favorite on the campaign website.

Looking over the ten finalists, I couldn't help but compare them to the supporter-created designs done for Barack Obama's campaign. My personal theory is that while Democrats tend to design campaign posters that look like concert poster printing, Republicans lean towards design reminiscent of movie poster printing.

Another interesting difference is that, while I've heard Obama's camp edits their supporter-created designs obsessively, the McCain campaign appears unconcerned about possible inconsistencies, heavy-handedness or incorrectly set tones in their chosen poster designs.

Here are some of my favorites:

I like how the copy gets smaller and smaller as it struggles to fit itself onto the page…

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This was a good concept, but unfortunately, McCain's hairline caused something to be lost in the execution – namely, half his head:

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The campaign seems to have liked the idea of a play on the old phrase, “to raise Cain.” They don't seem to be concerned with the fact that the phrase, “refers to the biblical son of Adam and Eve, the first murderer. The expression means to bring or return that evil to Earth.” However, I can't shake the feeling that this is the wrong tone to set for someone vying to become leader of the free world:

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But seriously, folks, I'm not trying to give Republican designers a hard time here. The contest does have some excellent entries.

This is my favorite, I think, because it reminds me of the beginning of McCain's campaign. Those early-on dark, militaristic print and web designs were far from conventional, and the esthetic was actually kinda grimly cool:

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I can't say the same thing about McCain's homepage today.

So, which design deserves a run of campaign poster printing? And are Republican and Democrat print designers really so different? Let me know what you think!


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