McCain Steals Obama Logo

I got a note Wednesday evening from the HuffPo PR gang about Sam Stein‘s discovery that John McCain had launched a redesigned website that had some similarities to Barack Obama’s. Or, as it was put in the inimitable HuffPo style, “McCain Rips Off Obama’s Slogan And Logo.”

As to the first:

On Tuesday, the Senator co-opted the slogan that has come to personify Obama’s candidacy, taking the Illinois Democrat’s “Change You Can Believe In” and altering it into “A Leader You Can Believe In.”

The similarity is too close to be an accident. My guess is that this is a dig, not theft. McCain is contrasting his training and experience with Obama’s promises.

Now there is this. On Wednesday, the McCain campaign put out a new homepage, featuring his new, Obama-like slogan, and an image that seems uncannily similar to Obama’s trademark campaign logo – the red and white stripped valley under what appears to be a blue sun (or in McCain’s case, blue sun rays). Take a look.

The power was out at my house, so I had to wait until I got to work the next morning, but I did. I was shocked — shocked! — at what I found. McCain had blatantly stolen Obama’s unique and novel idea of using red, white, and blue on a presidential campaign site!

McCain Steals Obama Logo

Aside from having an old white guy rather than a middle aged black guy, not having the circular Obama logo, and an almost completely different page layout, these are IDENTICAL. (And nice touch by Team McCain to put their candidate in what appears to be a prison shirt, thus subtly evoking his five years as a POW.)

Of course, it’s only fair to point out that Obama stole the idea from Betsy Ross.

Betsy Ross Flag

Sarcasm aside, I thought this was a rather lame story and ignored it until I saw that Josh Marshall and Hotline were touting it. I’m not an art major but I’m just not seeing it.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, General, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ha! says:

    All you need in a McCain logo is red, since the candidate himself is already white and blue.

  2. Greg says:

    If you can’t see the similarities between McCain’s new site and Obama’s it’s because you don’t want to. It doesn’t take an art major to figure this one out.

  3. James Joyner says:

    If you can’t see the similarities between McCain’s new site and Obama’s it’s because you don’t want to.

    That both use red, white, and blue? And both use red and white stripes a’la the American flag? Sure, I see that. I just don’t think it’s sufficiently novel as to constitute a unique design idea.

  4. Grewgills says:

    I think its the slogan and the rising sun light on the blue background above the red and white striped ground. The portrait of McCain also has the same pose (on the right rather than left). The similarities are rather trivial, but there is more than one pose and more than one way to use red and white stripes and a blue field. These sites do look more similar to each other than to previous sites or posters.

  5. mrak says:

    What’s the big deal? The Obama Web site is mostly blue, and the McCain campaign just decided to make their site mostly blue too.

    There’s nothing desperate about it. It’s as trivial as if Coca-Cola decided to re-color their red cans blue to go after Pepsi’s market share.

  6. anjin-san says:

    The thing that jumped out at me is that golf gear seems to play an important role on McCain’s site. Bush selflessly gave up golf so show his solidarity with the troops, and I am shocked, shocked I tell you that Sen. McCain does not seem to have the fortitude to make this great sacrifice himself…

  7. Spoker says:

    This is undoubtedly one of the the more trivial political discussions I have seen. Next thing you know someone is going to claim that all of the red, white and blue bunting used on the 4th of July was their idea.

    If this is the best discussion we can come up this early in the election cycle it is obvious that this election will elevate useless hyperbole and whining to a new level. So glad to see our future in such good hands.

  8. Wayne says:

    The small round logos are almost the same. The logos were probably taken from the same web design template. You see them in many sites. Buttons are common even though they are not hard to design from scratch.

    This reminds me of all the claimed speech lines stealing here a while back. They claim McCain stole a line then found out later he was using it long before Obama ever did.

  9. anjin-san says:

    The logos were probably taken from the same web design template.

    Wayne clearly you know absolutely nothing about web design.

  10. Wayne says:

    Anjin
    Shall we have an html code writing contest? Most web design software comes with templates. Also many company offer pre-design components to designers so they don’t have to spend time reinventing the wheel. Even the designs that come from scratch often ends up in that designer homemade template. There are many scenarios where the logo shows up in two different websites. If you want to talk about web designing then bring it on. Obviously you are the one who knows absolutely nothing about web design.

  11. anji-san says:

    I don’t screw around with a lot of html anymore, if I need static coding, I just contract it out. But I can still write decent code when the occasion demands.

    Of course templates exist, and perhaps people such as yourself use them. I prefer to use my own designs, which I have done for Fortune 500 companies, Grammy winners, Emmy winners and multi- platinum record producers.

    When a logo shows up in 2 different places, it generally is a matter of someone with little or no design skills ripping off someone who can actually do original work. I have certainly been ripped off before, perhaps by you 🙂

  12. anjin-san says:

    PS…

    If you think an orginazation the caliber of Obama’s pulled its logo off of a template, it is a pretty good indication that you have never been involved in any kind of a serious project…

  13. Jack Bauer says:

    I am amazed so many at OTB cannot acknowledge the personal genius of Obama in everything he deigns to do.

    Before Obama or B.O. as I prefer to call it.., no one had ever thought of placing the words “we” and “can” together. It took a person of major intellect to see that.

    B.O… no one had ever thought of using the colors red, white and blue in a stripey type formation.

    B.O. went into a trance and emerged with these solutions, just like he will with healthcare.

  14. Charles says:

    Sometimes one campaign will steal ideas from the other campaign.

    But Obama doesn’t have any real ideas to steal.

    On the other hand, I’d give kudos to any candidate who had the audacity to make his site colors purple and green…..

  15. Wayne says:

    Anjin

    However the logos got there is due to the web designer not the candidate. Maybe the same designer or Design Company did both pages. I don’t know a neither do you. I agree it is not something a professional designer should do, especially if all they do is web design. In the real world many web pages are done by people who do other jobs and they unfortunately take shortcuts. I receive offers to buy premade web components quite often. I prefer to go the original route but know others who do not. I can’t rightly call them thieves if they buy it or get it from a share site and I sure can’t call their customers thieves.

    I wonder why you assumed Obama web designer is of high caliber and not McCain’s. Unless you think O.B. is a serious project and J.M. is not. In the end it is the designer or designers fault.

  16. anjin-san says:

    Maybe the same designer or Design Company did both pages

    The chances of this are just about zero.

    I wonder why you assumed Obama web designer is of high caliber and not McCain’s.

    Where did I say that?

    Don’t know anything about McCain’s organization. There is a strong chance that Obama’s team includes veterans of Dean’s campaign. Dean’s people pretty much wrote the book on how to use the Internet in a political campaign, and Obama’s team has perfected it.

    The right is playing catch up when it comes to using the Internet. They probably never going to catch up as most of the the people who are on the cutting edge of web technology and implementation are those darned liberals…

    BTW I do not feel that the “copying” issue as presented here is valid.

  17. Wayne says:

    Anjin
    “Where did I say that?”
    “If you think an orginazation the caliber of Obama’s pulled its logo off of a template, it is a pretty good indication that you have never been involved in any kind of a serious project…”

    Which sounds like you think Obama web designer is of high caliber if not directly then indirectly. Unless you don’t think his organization is of high caliber but that wouldn’t make much sense. Now if you think someone of high caliber wouldn’t use a template then they wouldn’t steal a logo either. This would mean that you think the fault lies in McCain’s web designer and that they are of low caliber.

    I’m not sure why the logo appears in both sites. Maybe McCain’s designer did steal it for some unknown reason or maybe it is one of many other reasons. Both sides often use the same pollsters and caterers, maybe the use the same web designers. I have seen some companies that like putting little identifiers logo on pages they design. I not a believer in it myself but it happens. Designing is an art and to pretend that everyone likes doing it the same way is asinine.

  18. Wayne says:

    Anjin
    “Where did I say that?”
    “If you think an orginazation the caliber of Obama’s pulled its logo off of a template, it is a pretty good indication that you have never been involved in any kind of a serious project…”

    Which sounds like you think Obama web designer is of high caliber if not directly then indirectly. Unless you don’t think his organization is of low caliber but that wouldn’t make much sense. Now if you think someone of high caliber wouldn’t use a template then they wouldn’t steal a logo either. This would mean that you think the fault lies in McCain’s web designer and that they are of low caliber.

    I’m not sure why the logo appears in both sites. Maybe McCain’s designer did steal it for some unknown reason or maybe it is one of many other reasons. Both sides often use the same pollsters and caterers, maybe the use the same web designers. I have seen some companies that like putting little identifiers logo on pages they design. I not a believer in it myself but it happens. Designing is an art and to pretend that everyone likes doing it the same way is asinine.

  19. anjin-san says:

    you think the fault lies in McCain’s web designer

    If a web designer can publish live without any kind of pre-prod approval process or release management, than McCain’s internet operation is indeed hackey. Even if a designer created the problem, there should be approval layers in place to prevent it from becoming public.

    I do not know if this is the case. There is also copyright issues related to the logo that we are not informed about. Does Obama hold a trademark? Does someone else? If either campaign holds a mark, I would expect a rapid cease and desist demand from that candidates legal team to the opposing party.

    Designing is an art and to pretend that everyone likes doing it the same way is asinine.

    What one likes has nothing to do with it. There are established best practices related to logo usage, you either follow them or not…

  20. James Joyner says:

    I’m not sure why the logo appears in both sites.

    There is no logo that appears on both sites. They both use red and white stripes — as in the American flag — and a sky blue backdrop with some vague sun ray pattern.

    I think the confusion is that, in the screencap above that HuffPo used, it may appear that the second appearance of the Obama circular logo is on McCain’s site. It’s not. That’s still Obama’s site, below the top navigation menu.

  21. Wayne says:

    James
    Thanks for the clarification on the round logo. In that case I see no stealing going on. It is just another loony left wing conspiracy theory.