“The new prevalence of brand names and themes is indicative of the growing role played by commercial culture in American society, even in the once-sacrosanct realm of politics, marketing and corporate identity, consultants say.”
The intersecting trifecta of ketchup, consumerism, and politics reemerged in the early 2000s, as John Kerry and George W. Bush went head-to-head in the bid for President of the United States. John Kerry, married to Teresa Heinz Kerry, an heiress to the Heinz ketchup fortune, took a familiar avenue for getting things done: branding. While the Heinz brand made a specific point of saying “it [was] not affiliated politically with Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry,” the name Heinz inevitably stuck for Kerry, creating for him what became ‘the ketchup campaign (“Heinz, the Non-Partisan”).’ Validating this brand identification further, Republicans began marketing their own brand of ketchup, called W. Ads on the brand’s website helped further mark its political leanings: “You don’t support Democrats. Why should your ketchup? (Elliott)” In an article in the New York Times titled “The Branding of the Presidency,” columnist Stuart Elliott makes the same point about the universality of consumerism in American society. “The new prevalence of brand names and themes is indicative of the growing role played by commercial culture in American society, even in the once-sacrosanct realm of politics, marketing and corporate identity, consultants say (Elliott).”
Teresa Heinz Kerry, a philanthropist following in her forefather’s benevolent footsteps, unintentionally utilized the brand power that had been built up by the Heinz family over generations of responsible and humanitarian ownership (Elliott). The Kerry campaign capitalized on the good social capital of the Heinz name, which in some cases backfired for the Heinz company itself as Republicans across the nation boycotted their products (“Heinz”). Even within the sphere of a purely political struggle, branding and consumerism come into play, as voters shop around for the best candidate. For John Kerry, he was able to package himself under the vaunted Heinz label, appropriating and utilizing generations of social and economic capital built from H.J. Heinz’ hard work for his own presidential purposes.
- Elliott, Stuart. “The Branding of the Presidency.” The New York Times 2 Sept. 2004: n. pag. Print.
- “Heinz, the Non-partisan Ketchup.” CNN Money Magazine 23 Sept. 2004: n. pag. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.