Central Market Canvassing For Cheese Votes

Central Market is hoping its patrons can muster more enthusiasm for Limburger and Gouda than they've shown for the current crop of political candidates.

The grocer is rolling out a cheese promotion tomorrow that calls upon shoppers to vote for their favorite cheeses in an online poll.

"Which cheese is your cheese?," asks a dedicated web page festooned with pseudo-campaign buttons for Asiago and Brie. "Let your voice be heard during Hail to the Cheese."

Election-themed advertisements are common in presidential election years. When voter engagement is especially high, the least-likely food and beverage brands find ways to weave electoral excitement into their campaigns: In 2008, Maker's Mark, Svedka Vodka, Ben & Jerry's, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme all came up with sales pitches that referenced voting.

Marketers on both sides of the Atlantic have capitalized on election fever: Two UK potato chip companies issued "gourmet crisp flavours based on the three parties" in conjunction with the nation's hotly contested parliamentary race earlier this year. (Reflecting the realities of a multi-party system, Tyrrells also created a "hung parliament" variety, featuring all three flavors.)

But 2010 has been an off-year for ads celebrating democracy. Central Market appears to be one of the few food purveyors appealing to the 36 percent of voters who say they're enthusiastic about going to the polls this November.

"People need to shake off this lethargy," President Barack Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview last month. "People need to buck up."

Perhaps the problem is the candidates haven't hit upon slogans as catchy as "Brie is for me" and "Swiss: No Holds Barred."

Cheese voting ends on October 26.

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Hanna Raskin
Contact: Hanna Raskin