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GSD&M Takes Electorate's Pulse

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Like the presidential contenders, GSD&M has its eye on undecided voters. The Austin, Texas, agency believes the issues voters weigh when picking candidates are the same ones that will prompt them to open their wallets for goods and services once the election is over.

To prove its theory, the shop has teamed up with research firm WirthlinWorldwide and public relations shop Fleishman-Hillard to prepare four studies on how issues such as national security, foreign policy and healthcare affect consumer confidence. "We call it the business of politics, and we believe the same dynamics that affect politics affect brands," said GSD&M president Roy Spence. "Seldom do we admit voters are consumers, too."

The first study, completed Feb. 26 and based on a phone survey of 1,000 adults, found that national security, foreign policy and healthcare carry as much weight among voters as economic concerns.

"We want to create a strategic and social map of who swung the vote in this election and why," said Rene Huey-Lipton, GSD&M planning director. "If you look at potential swing voters, it shows they are more engaged in the process of voting or buying. They want to make sure the person they vote for or the thing they buy provides the answers they are looking for."

GSD&M will share the results with clients that have specific issues and voters in mind, such as Charles Schwab (financial issues), Sam's Club (female business owners who are active voters), Air Force (how national security and patriotism affect recruiting) and AARP (how seniors feel about social security and prescription-drug coverage). John Killpack, director of brand management for AARP, said the first study "gives us some confirmation that we are on the right track" with its marketing.