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Election Marketing Round-up

Election Marketing Round-up

With today’s inauguration, election season is officially, mercifully, over. (Whew.) 

At GOXD, our clients and colleagues come from across the political spectrum, and we’re on board with that. As long as everyone’s good and kind to one another. 

But we couldn’t pass up the occasion to look back at the marketers who stepped into the political fray during the 2016 presidential campaign. Some were measured, and some were bold. Presumably all were cognizant of their consumers’ sensibilities and the potential for brand bumps and blows during this polarized political season.

Check out a roundup of some of the many approaches we saw this election season:

  • A few brands embraced their authentic relevance to the political conversation. We loved the House of Cards ads during a Republican debate.
  • With political news happening by the second during debates, some brands turned to real-time marketing. Merriam-Webster and BarkBox were among those that tapped social media to connect with audiences with immediacy.
  • Others have opted to play on consumers’ political fatigue. Hefty ran a punny and popular multi-platform campaign built on “trashing” political ads. 
  • Some brands got in on the action unwittingly. Remember Skittles and Tic Tacs?
  • Some stepped out to make their political leanings clear. Tecate’s take on the Mexican border wall drew raves.
  • Some invited consumers to share their voice. See 7-Eleven’s 2016 update to its typically binary choose-your-cup campaign.
  • And countless have opted to stay politically agnostic, while still embracing an election-season theme. See Audi’s well-crafted apolitical campaign ad, for example. And consider the report from Luxury Daily reports, hospitality brands are largely aiming to celebrate the transition of power without taking sides.

But of course, the inauguration is only the beginning.

The New York Times reports that many smart marketers are bracing — and preparing for — targeted criticism from the new president. They’re recognizing that this new administration is ushering in a fast-acting, guns-blazing communications style, and marketers need to be prepared.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they need to sit idly by. Many marketers are avoiding politics entirely, but others aren’t. 37.5 Technology, for example, sent the president-elect its Sleep System sheets and followed it with tweets wishing him better sleep, so he can get off Twitter at 3 a.m. And 84 Lumber crafted a Super Bowl commercial featuring the much-talked-about wall — though Fox rejected the spot for being “too political.”

In an increasingly polarized climate, it remains to be seen what impact brands will experience form their political commentary or lack thereof. But there’s no doubt that, in this new administration, marketing and politics will be more intertwined than ever: Brands are unapologetically making their political leanings known. Organizations are making major ad buys to help empower protesters. And the 45th president is offering up unprecedented endorsements and smears, many of which are having the precise opposite of their intended effects.

The result: Marketers are making risk-benefit analyses of when to take a political stand or remain safely on the sidelines. They’re developing contingency plans. And of course, we’re all waiting to see what headlines will follow.

What kind of marketing moves you most, for better or worse, in this political climate? We’d love to hear from you.

 

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