November 28, 2014
By: Devon Pine @LuckyNumbrDevon
Driving down the street or watching a favorite TV show September through November fourth, political ads are almost impossible to avoid.
We’re all fans of promotion, advertisements and public relations here right? So why have most people, even us marketing lovers, come to hate these political ads? While there are many similarities between campaigning and the typical brand marketing we’ve come to love, it’s the differences that drive the less-than-pleasant feeling we have towards them.
Research is a good place to start when putting together a good public relations or ad campaign. Political campaigns are no different. Field directors and their teams start off the campaign process early off in the year bye contacting and surveying registered voters in their district. A typical phone conversation early on in my summer as a campaign intern: (it’s May 3rd) “Hi yes, I’m calling to take a survey about upcoming election.” Voter, “What upcoming election?” Exactly. Brand promoters keep monitoring their success throughout the campaign – political campaigns continue to actively reach out to survey voters all the way up to the election. This is to see which candidate is winning the race.
While brands utilize social media, not only to monitor their ad’s success, but also promote the campaign. However, political campaigns are not utilizing social media in the way that brands are. The 2008 election had the first notable use of the Internet and social media, and (obviously) that strategy paid off for President Obama. Today, political campaigns and the candidates themselves are becoming more and more active on social media, especially the Democratic Party which typically targets a younger demographic.
Social media is slowly growing in politics, and utilized more and more these past few years in its grassroots marketing efforts and aggressive ad tactics. It’s illegal to post political signs on private property, but yet yard signs seem to pop up everywhere around election time. This is because field teams made this happen with grassroots marketing – they are calling and knocking doors, hoping supporters will want to put a “So-and-so for Congress 2014” sign on their property.
Now, I’m a big supporter of Hidden Valley Ranch, but they have never contacted me to put a sign in my yard in order to advertise. Equally true, Hidden Valley doesn’t dig up horrible secrets and use them against Kraft ranch dressing in their ads. I’d think it’s safe to say that this is the main reason people tend to not like political ads. Trackers, people whose job it is to find dirt on a candidate, are often times the ones who dig up the information we see in political ads that slams the opposition. Yes, the drama of the ads is typically overdone, but one publicized scandal can dictate the results of the election.
Yes, many of us are sighing in relief that election season is over and the frequent ads are done until the next election, but in reality, these political ads aren’t as different as those of our favorite brands. See you in 2016 voters.