Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Learning From 2014 Political Direct Mail Successes

Direct mail proved its value as a fundraising and political engagement tool in many successful midterm bids, and the tactical takeaways can help campaigns hone mailings for the next political cycle. Paul Bobnak, archivist for Who's Mailing What! and research director for DirectMarketingIQ.com, recently winnowed through the mass of political mail from 2014 races and pulled out three tips for success. First, go big to make a big splash, he advises, citing as one example the 8.5-by-11-inch booklet mailed out by Democrat Tom Wolf in his successful bid to oust incumbent Republican Tom Corbett in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race. Second, use color, he urges, showing how outer envelopes with compelling four-color images and bold teaser copy stand out from the crowd of dull No. 10 mailers. Third, add door-to-door campaign tools to mailings to help put your donors and supporters on your street team. Bobnak highlights how a Democratic National Committee mailer not only included a sheet of stickers and two door hangers but also an outer envelope that folded out into a poster, a tactic that has proved effective for nonprofit donor drives. To see Bobnak's video presentation and examples, go to http://www.directmarketingiq.com/item/2014-political-direct-mail-tips

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hillary May Tap Texas Ad Agency Alums for 2016

According to a recent Advertising Age report, Wendy Clark, a Coca-Cola marketing executive and alumnus of Austin-based ad agency GSD&M, may join her mentor at GSD&M, co-founder and Clinton confidant Roy Spence, on the presumptive Hillary Clinton presidential campaign team. Clark shares Spence's philosophy of "purpose-driven" marketing, and there is speculation that this is the kind of branding strategy that could guide Clinton's campaign messaging. Clark, who is on leave from Coke to pursue a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" per an internal memo, and Spence, whom Hillary Clinton counted among "the best friends I ever had" in her 2003 autobiography, were both put on the list of potential Clinton team "message makers" by a recent New York Times blog post. Spence, who is known for the "Don't Mess With Texas" anti-litter campaign and who founded The Purpose Institute in 2008 to promote his branding philosophy, urges "purpose-driven" marketing to "play to your strength in the purpose of serving the greater good." Clark's implementation of that concept has stressed integrating owned, earned, shared and paid media, with social media at the center. Barbara O'Connor, emeritus professor of communications and director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media at California State University, Sacramento, summed up for Advertising Age: "I think [Wendy Clark's] skill set is one that [Ms. Clinton] certainly would like to have, because Wendy is very well known and is excellent at marketing to Middle America. And that's a group that whoever is running for president needs to focus on turning out." For the full story, go to http://adage.com/article/news/hillary-adland-message-makers/296647/

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winning Midterm Ads Told Voters 'I'm Just Like You'

Political ads, whether they go for positive vibe or negative attack, succeed by connecting candidates to the voters. A key way to do that is to convey the message that a candidate is "just like you," proposes an analysis of 2014 midterm campaign ads by Lynn Vavreck, a UCLA political science professor, writing in The New York Times' The Upshot section. Vavreck cites two contrasting "just like you" approaches that won. Joni Ernst garnered national attention for her Iowa Senate race with her now-famous hog-castration ad, promising to go to Washington to "make 'em squeal," but the heart of her campaign was to connect to Iowa voters with "just like you" authenticity, raising hogs on a farm and making biscuits at Hardee's restaurant. And the last two weeks of her successful Senate bid produced over 80% promotional and positive ads, focusing on government spending, budget and taxes. In contrast, Pat Roberts, the incumbent Republican senator in Kansas, kept his seat by producing 80% of ads that were negative attacks on President Obama and his policies--especially in the last two weeks of his campaign. It wasn't because his opponent was an Obama Democrat; his opponent ran as an independent. But by using attack ads, Roberts tapped into his electorate's disapproval and disappointment with Obama to show voters he was "just like you," Vavreck notes. Politicos gearing up for 2016 certainly should consider the power of "just like you" in planning campaigns. For the complete article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/06/upshot/midterm-political-ads-that-worked-and-why.html?_r=0

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Texas Governor Election Was Direct Marketing Coup

The mid-term elections, seen by some as a slap to President Barack Obama's policies, simultaneously saw politicos of all stripes warmly embracing the data-driven, digital marketing strategies pioneered by the President's team. A case in point is the successful 2014 campaign of Texas' newly elected Republican Governor Greg Abbott, points out Direct Marketing News Senior Editor Al Urbanski. Abbott spent about $7 million on digital marketing and data analytics in 2014, compared with the paltry $100,000 or so spent on digital by Rick Perry's 2010 Texas gubernatorial effort. Teaming with Targeted Victory, a digital agency focused on Republican clients, Abbott's election team worked to build an engaged online audience that could be called to action, moving supporters from Facebook fans to e-mail recipients to donors to voters via 74 different marketing campaigns of targeted content. Analytics and ROI even guided traditional offline canvassing efforts, so volunteers knocked only on the doors of pro-Abbott voters identified as needing a little push to the polls. One result of his data-driven strategy was that Abbott won a majority of male Hispanic voters, a coup in a typically Democratic demographic, by using statistical modeling and targeting to get pro-Abbott segments within the demographic into the voting booth. For more detail, read The Direct Marketing News story: http://www.dmnews.com/this-governor-elect-got-direct/article/382966/

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Midterm Wooing of Millennials Has Key Takeaways

Midterm campaigns have been working hard to woo millennials. The importance of the demographic target is clear: Those born between 1981 and the early 2000s now make up a quarter of the U.S. population, and roughly 45 million are eligible to vote. But millennials are also a hard-to-reach, easy-to-alienate cohort. A recent AdWeek article asked political marketing experts for takeaways from recent efforts to win millennial support. To appeal to this tech-centric, channel-agnostic and social media-obsessed generation, campaigns need to marry the right platforms with the right content, the experts advised. As far as marketing platforms, the stress is on a digital, "multiscreen" approach; a recent survey found that 30% of millennials use four or more digital communications devices daily, and the overall group checks mobile phones an average of 40 times per day. And when it comes to content, relevant, entertaining and informative messaging is critical. Experts interviewed by AdWeek warned that pitches not only need to be laser-focused to match millennials’ ideals and interests but must come across as sincere; millennials will spurn anything that smacks of hype, histrionics, hard sell, preaching or scare tactics. But perhaps one of the biggest challenges for campaigners is this demographic's distrust of politics and politicians. For example, a recent Reason-Rupe survey found that 66% of millennials believe government is inefficient and wasteful, and 60% think it abuses its powers. As a result, campaigns have gained by focusing on issues and values over party affiliation. Rob Shepardson, co-founder and partner in the creative agency SS+K, summed up: "Millennials will align with somebody regardless of political labels based on values. Communicate through issues, not through the candidate. Negative ads and politics-as-usual can turn millennials off. They are quite shrewd when it comes to marketing. You need to get to a point or a benefit that matters to them." For examples of recent campaign efforts that worked, or failed, to win over millennials, see the article: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/tapping-millennial-political-and-social-passions-ahead-midterm-elections-160563

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Midterm Lesson: Web Ad Space Isn't Unlimited

Political campaigners are learning a surprise lesson in the midterm election battles: Premium space on the web is not infinite. Late-comers to the increasingly crowded digital space are finding that they've missed all the tastiest spots for video and display ads. A recent story in The New York Times underscored that savvy political players now must make pre-emptive strikes to ensure ad placement when and where it matters most. Online video spots are especially hot, and there are two main types: those a viewer can skip after just a few seconds, and “reserved buy” ads that run in their entirety before another video begins. The ads that can be skipped are unlimited but sold by auction so the price goes up as demand increases closer to Election Day. The ads that cannot be skipped, those that viewers are forced to watch for all 15 or 30 seconds before they can see content from their original search, are limited. Campaigns are hurrying to reserve this video ad type in advance to lock in a good price and ensure prominent display. Video ad space on popular sites like YouTube, Hulu, Yahoo and top news outlets is in short supply; there is already almost no remaining YouTube inventory for reserve buys in some very competitive races, the New York Times reports. Banner ads and home-page takeovers, in which ads from a particular buyer are the only ones prominently displayed on a website’s home page, are also being scooped up fast. “Smart campaigns book early, the same way that smart brands book television early,” Andrew Bleeker, the president of Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic digital marketing company, told the NYT. “We reserve most of the inventory for our clients in the spring to make sure something like this isn’t a factor.” For the complete article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/us/campaigns-find-ad-space-finite-even-on-the-web.html?_r=0

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Political Ads Grab 20% of Sept. Cable TV Spend

With $1 of every $5 spent on cable TV advertising in September dedicated to political ads, at least per independent cable ad rep firm Viamedia, cable fans are seeing their usual beer and insurance ads pushed aside by midterm election messages this year. As reported recently by The Fix. The Washington Post political blog, the share of political ad revenue is way up this year in Viamedia stats -- compare September's 20.5% share for political ads with the 13% share of four years ago -- and still growing. Why the cable blitz? Viamedia theorized to The Fix that not only has easing of campaign finance restrictions pulled more money into political ad spending but also that data technology for cost-effective, narrow targeting of cable audience, especially geo-targeting, is drawing dollars away from broadcast. As proof of the current tightly targeted TV ad effort, Viamedia notes that just 16 channels comprise 92% of its political ad revenue in 2014. To see the cable networks leading in political ad share across 30 Viamedia markets, check out http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/10/08/1-of-every-5-spent-on-cable-tv-ads-in-september-was-political-per-one-firm/