Logan Thompson

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Marketing Lessons From Political Ads

First off, I really don’t care for elections as we are being bombarded with political ads, mostly by candidates bashing their opponents.  However, there can be a lot to learn from looking at good and bad political ads that you can transfer to your advertising campaigns.

The Good

I ran across this ad this morning from a guy named Ron Johnson who’s running for U.S. Senate out of Wisconsin.  Generally, I don’t care that much about politicians from other states since I can’t do much about it, but his TV commercial was good enough that we can take a few advertising tips from it.

Why does this ad stand out?

  • Well first of all it looks like he took some tips from the UPS commercials. The ad is just him in front of a white board. It simple, and makes his message stand out. Simple ads work.
  • The main point of the ad is to differentiate himself from his competitors. He shows how the majority of senators are lawyers.  One thing I know is that most people don’t like lawyers.  He doesn’t bash his opponent, just simply states that he is a lawyer.  This already starts to paint a better picture of Johnson as what people are wanting right now in this crappy economy is change.  His final remark is simply “I’m not a politician, I’m an accountant and a manufacturer.”
  • This ad is different.  Think about all the ads you see online, on the TV, in magazines, etc. It’s so easy to do what everyone else is doing, yet your ads start to blend in.  Johnson’s ad is different than most ads I’ve seen (although I’m sure he will be copied).  Because it is different, that’s why it stood out.

Note: I am not supporting Johnson one way or another, I just liked his ad.

The Bad

Now lets take a quick look at a bad political ad (in my opinion).  This is an ad from Alan Grayson, congressman from Florida.

Why I believe this is a poor ad

  • All Grayson is doing is bashing his competitor.  He gives no benefits of  himself if he were elected.  If you ads are strictly to bash your competitors, you are doing nothing but hurting your own brand.
  • The poor editing of this ad annoys me.  You can tell that they took what Dan was saying out of context, which isn’t original at all.  It just comes across as sleazy.
  • I love the Arabic looking letters at the end when he calls him Taliban Dan.  He must of had a high school student produce the ad.  I’m not saying that all ads must look professional, but if your purpose is branding, that’s not the way to do it.

As a marketer, I’m always looking for lessons in everything no matter if its political ads, or girl scouts trying to sell me cookies.

What positive lessons can you take away from political ads this year?

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1 comment… add one
  1. Political advertising is always interesting to watch. Much of it is pretty awful and, as you point out, tends to focus mainly on mudslinging against the opponent. You just don’t see much of this kind of total negative advertising outside of the political arena. Companies will take occasional swipes at the competition, but usually in the context of trying to show why they are a better alternative. I know the rationale from politicians has always been that negative campaign ads win elections and that’s why they keep churning them out, but it’s always a pleasant surprise to see an ad that focuses more on a candidate’s selling points, rather than how horrendous their opponent is. Whether you agree with what the candidate stands for or not, you have to appreciate a positive approach to getting their message out there.

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