on March 04, 2016 inbound marketing marketing

Politics and Marketing: How To Capitalize on Election Year

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Having worked in the broadcast media world for over 10 years, I have seen first hand how election years can drive the average person crazy. The candidate attack ads, the mudslinging, the debates, the media outlets obsessed with keeping us up to date on the latest polls. You know the drill.

What I never focused on is just how disruptive election years can be to the advertising space. To align, or not align with a certain side: that is the question. Do companies who post political leaning ads benefit or bust? I wanted to know more so I did some research. Here's what I found: 


1. The creative matters: By adding humor or satire to politics, or through offering FREE products on election day, companies were actually able to see a direct increase in revenue and brand awareness. Starbucks offers FREE coffee on Election day and sees huge revenue from muffin and add-on sales. Even though it cost in cups, the company saw strong sales and lifted brand image.  Below, Budweiser does a great job of incorporating an election year into this TV creative without being polarizing. 


2. Placement, and timing is EVERYTHING: No one likes a poorly timed joke-it's imperative when riding the coat tails of a national candidate blunder-that your company has the man power to execute the marketing campaign quickly and flawlessly. If you have a bunch of t-shirts made, only to have them hit stores 6 months later-you've missed the mark. Location, timing, and creative go hand in hand-you must plan ahead so when the opportunity strikes you can take advantage. 

3. Elections can be budget busters for local companies: With political ads taking up tons of inventory on TV, Radio, Billboards, and more-that means the  local advertiser has to pay more. This can have a ripple effect-the local advertiser either has to pay more during an election year losing margin on return, OR they have to go dormant losing top of mind awareness and risk sales. It's a catch 22, so if you are looking to use traditional media for Q2-Q4 of an election year-consider placing the buy at the beginning of the year; you can pay fair rates, and secure your ad time rotation even when candidates and Super PACT money begin to flood the airwaves. By the time the 2020 election season rolls around, more than 3 billion will be invested in digital advertisements to get voters to choose a candidate.


The outcome: After 16 months of back and forth between candidates and their pleas toward the American people, a new POTUS will be elected and sworn in. Depending on who that person is, it can have lasting effects on the economy (think: stock market, inflation, lending, interest rates, etc) So, as a company and business owner, having an annual marketing strategy laid out ahead of time will help keep the ebbs and flows to a minimum. When in doubt-focus on company culture for employees, and customer service to drive retention; those will always provide positive ROI for you. 

Election year's are news-talk station's 'Superbowl'...if your company does want to venture into politics during an election year, take advantage of mediums that offer exposure to voters that agree with your message. Need help with your election year creative? CLICK HERE.


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Tara Gearhart

Tara is a high-energy and passionate individual who settles for nothing less than the best. She's spent over 10 years in the Broadcast Media Business, and over 5 years in the SaaS space working with HubSpot, Inbound Marketing Software. She now blends both traditional and inbound methodology to create success for her clients.