U-M experts can discuss presidential campaign marketing; music, design and social media

July 28, 2015


With the 2016 presidential campaign in full swing, University of Michigan experts are available to discuss evolving campaign marketing elements including music, design and social media.


Mark Clague, associate professor of musicology at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, researches all forms of music-making in the U.S. He is a foremost expert on the national anthem and has taught classes on American popular music and music and politics in popular culture.

“There is a fascinating history of how political candidates use popular music to appeal to the hearts—rather than the minds—of their supporters,” he said. “Candidates today not only leverage an artist’s popularity to boost their own, they use music as a way to reinforce campaign themes. Ross Perot famously used Patsy Cline’s ‘Crazy,’ Bill Clinton used Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow,’ and much to Tom Petty’s dismay, George W. Bush used ‘I Won’t Back Down.’ Interestingly, President Obama was the first to use Motown music, which is historically a genre that introduced African-American culture to white audiences.

“Artists sometimes protest the use of their music by a candidate they don’t support. The resulting media storm never plays out well for the candidate—unless you’re Chris Christie. Christie, who is New Jersey’s governor, is a Springsteen superfan even though Springsteen has publicly expressed distaste for him. This seems to only propel Christie’s persona as ‘a guy who speaks his mind.’ With so many candidates this year, music choices are going to be used strategically to differentiate one from another, which will create some quirky theme songs.”

Contact: 734-649-4972, [email protected]


Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo is a designer, educator, writer and curator on the subject of design. He is a professor at the Stamps School of Art & Design, where his courses include Advanced Typography, Visual Identity & Branding, Poster Design and Packaging Design.

“We will always see more creativity with democratic candidates,” he said. “President Obama was really the first to experiment with a unique visual lexicon without following any rules—whether it was with his iconic ‘change’ poster or his signature ‘O’ that many people describe as a ‘pathway to the future,’ he was able to be different because that is what people expected from him as the first African-American president.”

“Historically, it has been much harder for Republican candidates to be modern and expressive and to look at color and form in new, fresh ways, and those that step outside of those parameters are generally unpopular with with their supporters. So far, Hillary Clinton seems to be the one that could lead with her design—her logo uses a contemporary font, is immediately recognizable without her name attached, and is easy to replicate. In general, there have been some very interesting choices across the board so far.”

Contact: 734-834-4340, [email protected]


Puneet Manchanda is professor and chair of marketing at the Ross School of Business. His main research interest is in building empirical models to solve strategic marketing problems such as resource allocation, launch planning, word-of-mouth marketing and customer relationship management. His most recent work has focused on marketing strategy problems in social media, e-commerce and high-tech.

“The landscape of political marketing has completely changed in the last two elections,” he said. “TV is still where most of the marketing money is spent, but we’ve seen a fundamental shift in campaign strategies due to social media. Because it operates at the both the mass level and at the individual level, it allows voters to have potentially meaningful interactions with candidates and their campaigns.

“Right now, the candidates’ social media profiles seem to be cautious works-in-progress. As we approach the primaries and the election itself, I expect we’ll see the candidates’ online personas evolve and their ‘voices’ to become more distinct.”

Contact: 734-936-2445, [email protected]

Josh Pasek is an assistant professor of communication studies in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and a faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies. He studies whether the use of online social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter might be changing the political information environment.

“At this point it is hard to imagine a serious presidential contender who isn’t doubling down on social media,” he said. “For a sizable and growing swath of the electorate, sites like Facebook and Twitter are the primary means through which individuals get their news and their political information. By ignoring these avenues, candidates are simply handing away message control when addressing Millennial voters.”

Contact: 734-764-6717, [email protected]