Whether they like it or not, John Deere now has a politics.
So does Chevron.
By just mentioning those brands, most Americans know exactly which “side” each represents. In a world starved of attention, consumers use clues from cultural understanding drawn from politics.
It’s a recent development.
No southern Democrat would have said Lucky Strike had “a politics” 40 years ago. Good smokes were good smokes.
No northern liberal would say Nike had a politics 20 years ago. Michael Jordan famously said it himself: “Democrats and Republicans both buy shoes.”
Is that true today? Do Democrats buy Allen Edmonds? Do Republicans buy Birkenstocks?
If not, what’s a better definition of cultural power — beyond their ability to sell their products — of the brands themselves? It influences how their audiences think and behave at a level far deeper than footwear.
Show up to your first Chamber of Commerce meeting meeting in Birkenstocks… are you communicating belonging? The implied notion of partisanship, of being on one side or another of a cultural divide, itself communicates a language of trust or distrust more powerful than any ad campaign.
Cultural power to change behavior? The very stuff of politics. And even if that power doesn’t need much “how” explanation, because culture is intuitive, the “what?” and “what next?” of cultural politics are vital questions for brands to answer.