Soundtracks for politicians
You know what James Bond sounds like, you know what Darth Vadar sounds like, you even know what the shark in Jaws sounds like, but have you ever wondered what a politician sounds like? What their theme song would be? Well probably not, to be honest. But we decided to do the work and find out for you anyway!
Using our patented BrandMatch technology, our panel of 3 million consumers and our database of over 5,000 BrandMatched songs, we’ve found the perfect theme song for a number of leading politicians. BrandMatch is typically used by the biggest brands in the world to accurately measure the personality match between any brand and any piece of music or media to ensure that the chosen stimulus is consistent with the core brand personality.
To do this we replaced brands with politicians and asked consumers to define each politician’s brand using our BrandMatch methodology. We then ran a search over our BrandMatched database of over 5,000 recent released tracks to assess which song is the closest match to their personality. A bit of fun, absolutely, but this is also a revealing perspective at how the public rates each leader’s efforts during the pandemic and beyond.
Now, more than ever, politicians are at the forefront of public consciousness. At the peak of lockdown in Britain, nightly televised press conferences bookended long, languid lockdown days and regular breakfast telly interviews had the undivided attention of millions. The pandemic necessitated that governments get involved in people’s lives in ways that haven’t been seen since World War Two, and so the perception of political personalities is now in sharp focus. Public servants have literally never been so… public.
Donald Trump – Enter Shikari, Rabble Rouser: BrandMatch 89%
As a theme song Rabble Rouser is a truly chaotic assault on the eardrums, much like President Trump himself.
Trump is a tried and true, textbook rabble rouser, his every word is inflammatory and he inspires fury in everyone across the aisle for very different, but equally insidious reasons. His fierce supporters and his dedicated detractors, they’re all furious. On the radar graph above, Trump’s BrandMatch profile is a shrunken pentagon, he’s got terrible scores in all categories with no definitive peaks in any direction, he just doesn’t inspire any positivity in anyone. Anywhere.
Before the coronavirus hit, America was said to be the best prepared country in the world to handle it. But here we are, many months, millions of infections and over 180,000 deaths later. A terrifying, unhinged president combined with the spread of misinformation; a fundamental distrust of scientists; and a deeply ingrained culture of American individuality and entitlement have all brewed together to create a deadly, pandemic-worsening soup. Most of the blame falls at Trump’s feet; he’s downplayed the severity of the virus, encouraged a premature re-opening of the economy and advocated injecting actual disinfectant as a way to treat the virus.
That the song most closely matching Trump’s emotional values is a furious and deafening three minutes of metal, says it all really. Perhaps the antidote to all the madness is just putting your fingers in your ears and going “LALALALA”.
Joe Biden - The 1975, Frail State of Mind: BrandMatch 97%
Joe Biden spent most of the pandemic shielding because, lest we forget, at 78 he would be the oldest person ever to assume the presidency and he needs to survive long enough to shuffle into the White House. By any measure, argues GQ, “he is too old. And, beyond that, he does not seem like a young old. He seems fragile”. Because that’s the main thing Biden is known for: being old. That his theme tune is ‘Fragile State of Mind’ is a testament to both his record beating age and milquetoast persona. That persona is the second thing Biden is really known for. He’s like a nice, tepid cup of tea; nothing about him is ground-breaking or cool or revolutionary. But he’s comfortingly inoffensive. Biden’s BrandMatch profile above shows peaks at cheerful, relaxed and trusted but there’s a noticeable lack of innovation or sexiness. Because nobody is really a diehard Joe Biden fan, people aren’t out on the streets confessing their undying devotion to the nice, familiar man vying for the White House. But what he is, is a soothing reminder of the rose-tinted Obama days. He doesn’t inspire any strong emotions either way, and so he’s a perfect foil to the fierce tribalism that Trump incites. To win the presidency, Biden just has to survive and quietly ride this apathetic wave all the way to the White House, much like he did to become the Democratic nominee.
Angela Merkel – Bombay Bicycle Club, Everything else has gone wrong: BrandMatch 95%
When literally Everything Else Has Gone Wrong, Angela Merkel remains unflappable. Her BrandMatch profile shows peaks at relaxed and trusted because she is a straightforward, calm and collected leader who has served Germany well in a global health crisis. Merkel has been praised for her efficient, science-led pandemic response; Germany implemented strict social distancing and widespread testing early, saving thousands of lives and keeping the death toll far lower than other European countries. Merkel is a scientist by training and her response to the pandemic has been about the cold hard facts, her public updates have been straightforward and data-driven, with none of the airy fairy ‘blatant fabrications’ and other such insanity we’ve seen from the US; indeed “the mirror image of America under President Trump is Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel”. She’s not here to make you feel better, she’s just here to save your life. Whether you like it or not.
Jacinda Ardern – Alicia Keys, Underdog 91%
The lyrics in Alicia Keys’ Underdog go: “They said I would never make it/ But I was built to break the mould”
Jacinda Ardern is the shining example of breaking the mould, her BrandMatch profile marks her as the most innovative of all the politicians we’ve tested. She’s an all-rounder, scoring well on all attributes and her coronavirus response is simply a reflection of this. A recent study confirmed that female-led countries had “systematically and significantly better” responses to the pandemic than those led by men. Nowhere has this been more evident than New Zealand; pursuing an aggressive strategy of elimination rather than simply virus suppression, Ardern enforced one of the strictest lockdowns in the world and come June there was already tentative celebration as it seemed New Zealand had pulled off the impossible and achieved total elimination. After 102 virus-free days, the country was forced into lockdown again after an infection spike in Auckland. But Jacinda wasted no time and she moved swiftly to lockdown the area again. In the words of Alicia Keys, This girl is on fire!
Boris Johnson - Mura Masa, No Hope Generation: BrandMatch 94%
No Hope Generation is a bleak soundtrack for Boris and an even bleaker outlook for the nation. The radar graph above shows that Boris is well-rounded politician; owing to the fact that his scores are consistently low across all of the five attributes. Johnson has stubbornly insisted, with an entirely straight face, that the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been a real success. This boast is all the more galling in the shadow 40,000 deaths, more than double the Chief Medical Officer’s ‘best-case scenario’ projection of 20,000. Boris delayed lockdown, flirted with herd immunity and tactlessly clung to his carefully curated keep calm and carry on persona. In No Hope Generation, Mura Masa sing of “staring at the screen, so surreal”, and it did feel as though we’d slipped into an immersive episode of Black Mirror when Boris took to morning TV to brag about all of the coronavirus-infected hands he’d valiantly shaken in a hospital ward. Inevitably, he succumbed to the virus and ended up incapacitated in the ICU.
Dominic Cummings – Ash, Buzzkill: BrandMatch 85%
It’s a common concern that divisions in British society are growing ever deeper and that politics have become tribal. But then out comes Dominic Cummings, proving that the search for common ground perhaps isn’t so fruitless after all.
With an 85% match, the name of Cummings’ acutely angry theme song is Buzzkill. The track could happily apply to the pandemic itself, lockdown has obviously been a worldwide buzzkill (to put it lightly). But Cummings’ two hundred and sixty mile, mid-lockdown jaunt to Durham shattered the government’s carefully constructed narrative that we are ‘all in this together’. The ‘buzz’ that Cummings killed off was a sense of unity and a stoic common purpose. His attempt to put the whole thing to bed at a press conference succeeded only in stoking the fires and sharpening the pitchforks. Cummings claimed that he had simply read the rules better than everyone else, because actually they allowed for discretion in circumstances as exceptional as ‘needing childcare during a pandemic’. The BrandMatch radar graph shows that not only do the British public not trust Cummings, they don’t think he’s particularly cheerful or innovative either. Though you could argue that his attempt to gaslight an entire nation on live television was wildly innovative, and a Machiavellian manoeuvre that has since solidified his status as national villain.
Based on over 30 years of scientific research, and 100% powered by real consumers, BrandMatch is a hugely effective quantitative tool to ensure that media assets support and reinforce your core brand personality. For the above exercise we asked the public to create the base BrandMatch definition for each politician, but with clients it is them that define their aspirational brand personality that they want to match – they create the BrandMatch benchmark against which new brand assets are tested. Used extensively in Sonic Branding projects and elsewhere, BrandMatch is uniquely placed to help brands build value by ensuring a consistent personality at all times.