Jan 10

What car would they drive and what music would be playing on the car radio?”

We usually wrap up our corporate positioning projects by asking internal and external respondents whatCar
an organization might look like if it came to life and, once alive, what car would he/she drive and what music would be playing on the radio. The results help us shape the tone of the subsequent PR campaign (i.e. A response such as “…We’d be Arnold Schwarzenegger driving a Hummer” would dictate a different program tone than, say, “…I see us as Audrey Hepburn tooling around in a Jaguar convertible.”).

So, based upon their images and reputations, I thought I’d adapt the ‘car/music’ game and apply it to the leading presidential candidates. Here goes:

– Hillary Clinton would be wheeling around in a tough, boxy black Volvo. Nothing frilly for Hilly. Just something safe and sturdy that will take her straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And, since Sen. Clinton is so dependent upon the female vote (yet insists she doesn’t play the gal card), she’d be listening to Helen Reddy’s ‘I am woman.’

– Barack Obama would be driving a sleek Lexus. Boasting smooth lines, cool handling, and a sweet turning radius, the Obama luxury car’s radio would be tuned to some sort of upscale jazz from Thelonious Monk.

– John Edwards strikes me as a little man who would be most comfortable in a little car. So, let’s place him behind the wheel of a yellow Volkswagen whose speaker system is blasting some Southern rock anthem like ‘Free bird.’

– John McCain is true-blue American and would be driving a midrange Ford or GMC, the type you rent from Hertz and beat the hell out of for the duration of your trip. McCain’s music would be late 1960s and heavily influenced by the Vietnam War. So, I’m guessing it’s Barry McGuire’s ‘Ballad of the green berets.’

– Rudy Giuliani is a one issue candidate whose car reflects his limitations. It’s a huge Chevy Suburban that can only go in one direction, is impervious to dents and nicks and knows that it looked great for one, brief shining moment seven years ago. The music: either Journey’s ‘Eye of the tiger’ or Pat Benatar’s ‘Love is a battlefield.’

– Mitt Romney reeks of conservatism (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you). So, Mitt’s driving a conservative, family-focused mini van. Like Mitt, the car’s boring and bland, and colored brown. The music would be something like Debbie Boone’s ‘You light up my life.’

– Mike Huckabee strikes me as a real gladhandler who’s warm and fuzzy on the outside, but struggling to control a hair-trigger temper. (In fact, Huckabee’s the candidate I’d pick as most likely to engage in road rage). Huckabee’s zipping around in a Jeep and his radio station is jumping back-and-forth from evangelical, pro-creation anthems to Rush Limbaugh’s latest diatribes.

Projecting a candidate’s car and music of choice is lots of fun. And the nice thing is there is no right or wrong. So tell me what you think. Do you see the candidates differently? If so, what sort of car/music do you envision?