Logo Logic

The Ups and Downs of Branded Political Communication

Article appearing in The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science

  • Co-Author:
  • Taso Lagos with W. Lance Bennett
  • Date: May, 2007

Activists often have difficulties getting messages to larger publics. This is particularly challenging in the U.S. press/politics system, where the mainstream media tend to open the news gates only after government institutions engage with issues. Yet there are signs in recent years that activists are finding creative ways of publicizing their causes by attaching political messages to familiar corporate brands. For example, complex messages about labor conditions in foreign factories making shoes and apparel may travel more easily when attached to a major brand, for example, Nike sweatshop. The first part of this analysis examines how branded political communication works and how it may be effective. The second part looks at possible downsides of getting consumer audiences to actually grasp the larger import of the politics behind the brands and getting targeted companies and industrial sectors (fashion, food, forest products, etc.) to change their offending behaviors.