Are you tired of the ads, direct mail and phone calls from the political candidates yet? Sometimes it feels like the elections never stop; we just roll from one right into the next. At what point do viewers simply tune out the message?
Major political campaigns are big business. The candidates are marketing themselves to the voters, and they spend a big chunk of change doing it. Those candidates without deep pockets must get creative, taking advantage of free press through debates, town hall meetings and the creative use of social media. Candidates with more money rely heavily on TV and radio ads in the major markets, hire services to call voters to encourage them to get out on election day, send direct mail, etc., etc., etc.
If we add to this money spent by special interest groups and Super PACs in support of their candidates (just under half a billion dollars in 2011[i]), marketing essentially becomes a free-for-all. And because these groups aren’t directly linked to the candidates, the ads and approach can be down and dirty—in some cases influencing viewers and in others causing them to tune out all political ads.
Statistics are out on the amount of money spent on TV ads by each Republican candidate leading up to Saturday’s South Carolina primary. A combined total of $13.2 million was spent on TV ads alone, with Mitt Romney shelling out $4.7 million, Newt Gingrich spending $2.4 million and Rick Santorum $1.7 million[ii]. Yet, spending more than the second and third place finishers combined on TV ads did not guarantee Romney a win.
A political consultant referenced in The Charlotte Observer article (see end note below) believes that there were so many ads being shown that they simply lost effectiveness. Is this a case of too much marketing? And what do you risk if your competitor has a huge presence and you don’t?
One of the basic tenets of marketing is to know your audience and reach them via the channels they use. This is more than TV and radio, it includes online options and social media. Candidates are still figuring out how best to connect on these channels. When the competition is fierce, however, it’s important to see if you can find creative options to reach your viewers and catch their attention. One opportunity is to make sure your ads are not “typical fare” – make them stand out from the competition. Extremely tough—especially in a political campaign—but sometimes your best option to make marketing work for you. We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you would market yourself if you were running for office. Comment below and let us know!