Flickr image from shenghunglin
Two years ago, I wrote an article for a marketing publication about the politics of marketing…or the marketing of politics…whatever. There are some relevant points in the article to this election cycle I want to expand on and there are some new ones.
Just as with all things it touches, the new social nature of the web causes ideas and philosophies to be spread more quickly and to a more targeted audience. But as I say time and again, the web is not the whole banana…yet. You have to remember that the population that’s on the web and the population that will stand behind the curtain on November 7th are not the exact same group. There still has to be some traditional marketing done to those voters who are not on the net-train yet.
And in a larger sense (or maybe a smaller sense), is the new nature of the web helping or hurting the way that politics are marketed? Sure, the Long Tail is great for picking out people who like the 2,987,535th most popular book on Amazon and “creating a community” around it. But is sure is hard to get 51% of the vote with a niche.
So is traditional marketing the way to win an election? You wouldn’t think so by seeing what the campaign ads look like the last two weeks of October. It’s a ton of wasted money. If there was a campaign strategy, it’s thrown out as political ads start having conversations with each other…….(“Abe Lincoln splits logs. He kills trees”…..”My opponent says I split logs. Well, those trees were already dead”…..”Abe doesn’t know that someone had to kill those trees”….etc….etc.)
It’s the same thing I see happen all the time with corporate marketing. They create a solid well-researched marketing plan…and they stick to it until the competition sticks his head up and says “Boo!”. The company throws the plan out the window and starts marketing re-actively…which is the single worst way to market.
And could we possibly get some better creative pieces? It would help since the spot is on every commercial break. EVERY political ad uses the same voiceover people, the same graphic look, and the same generic stock footage. Way to stand out in the crowd.
And these are the national campaigns with people who supposedly know what they’re doing. It gets progressively worse as you get more local. The local campaign strategy is to litter the roadway with tacky signs. Here locally, there’s a candidate who’s using the signs from the last campaign he lost….to run for a completely different office. He’s saving money and confusing the voter.
In the end, what is the purpose of all this? Even after seeing 300 signs in people’s yards and a commercial every 15 minutes, can you tell me the political positions of most of these candidates? I can’t. And isn’t that the message they’re supposed to be marketing to us? They’ve failed.