TV Segment: Power Of Color – Effect Of Color On The 2012 Presidential Debates

This segment appears on KTRK, Channel 13 News at 10 on November 2, 2012.

A successful image visually communicates who you are and supports your verbal message. A great image is not a substitute for substance, people can see right through an empty suit.

Color plays an important part in image. The colors you wear activate different emotions and behaviours in yourself and others. The right colors can support your confidence and verbal message and the wrong colors can undermine them. We saw this in the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates this month.

Image from CNN

In the First Presidential Debate, President Obama wore a navy suit with a brilliant blue polka dot tie and Governor Romney wore a navy blue suit with a red and blue striped tie. The most nocible colors in both their outfits were in their ties. Let’s take a look at the President’s outfit.

  • Studies show that the color blue slows respiration and heart rate, so it physically relaxes and calms the body.
  • Blue communicates strength, reliability, integrity, dependability and inspires trust and faith.
  • Blue supported the President’s message of staying the course to elect him for another term.
  • This color may not have worked for him personally. According to political commentators and polesters, the President lost focus and didn’t perform his best in this debate. There are many factors that contribute to performance. The addition of the color yellow may have supported him in this area. He could have incorporated yellow by chosing a blue tie with yellow polkadots or used a yellow pad of paper.

In the first debate, Governor Romney wore a navy suit with a brilliant red tie with blue stripes.

  • Studies show the color red increases respiration and heart rate and activates our primal instincts of survival – fight or flight, and reproduction.
  • Red drives competition, appetite and sexual desire.
  • Red supported Governor Romney position as the challenger fighting the status-quo. It also supported the Governor’s performance. Before the debate,he had been criticized for being too gentle and humble. The red brought out the Governor’s competive spirit and he was more assertive.
  • Many people think Red is a power color, that’s not really the case. The danger with red is that it can inspire agression or make the wearer seem overbearing.
  • The thin blue stripes in Romney’s tie carried a calming influence and tempered the red so it didn’t become antagonistic.
  • These colors really worked for the Governor. Political commentators and polsters named him the overwhelming winner of this debate.

In the second Presidential debate, President Obama wore a navy suit with a burgundy and white patterned tie.

  • Burgundy is a deeper version of red. It embodies all the qualities of red, but it’s depth temperes the agression so it feels more safe and secure.
  • Navy communicates strength and reliability and inspires trust, and faith.
  • This color scheme communicates the calm, security of his first appearance and brings out his competive spirit.
  • Political commentators gave the President much higher marks for his second debate performance.

In the second debate, Governor Romney chose a blue and white striped tie and black suit.

  • This outfit lacked the assertive edge of his first appearance.
  • The Governer’s black suit gives a more harsh, formal and judgemental impression than his previous navy suit.
  • This color scheme made the candidate appear less likeable and less competitive. Political commentators noted that Romney missed some opportunities to rebut the Presidents statements.

So how do you apply color theory to everyday events and activities? Here are some suggestions:

First Date

Red is a tricky color to wear because it effects our primal instincts of competition and appetite. It is best worn in sporting and dating situations. It’s a great color to wear on a first date if you want to activate up your partner’s pulse and sexual appetite.

Meeting THE Parents For The 1st Time

If you want to your girlfriends parents to see you as trustworthy and safe, wear blue. It will calm their nerves and yours too!

Job Interview

What you wear to an interview depends on the type of industry and company. Think about incorporating the colors of the company logo into your outfit or the color orange. Orange inspires optimism, confidence, and tolerance and it strengthens teams and communities. It’s a great color to bring people together.

Giving A Presentation/Speaking To A Crowd

Use purple as your new power color. It is bright, so it will make you stand out and attracts attention. It is regal, signifying authority and inspiring loyalty.

Buying A Car

Green is a great color creating harmony and relaxation. It will help you get people on your side. Especially if you mix it with a little bit of orange.

Experiment with different colors and see how they effect your results and how you perform. Click here for more about the emotions and behaviors each color activates. Thank you Dillard’s for providing the clothing and location for the story.


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