Silly Season Sanity: Tips for Marketing During an Election Cycle

The silly season (i.e. political campaign and election cycle) has been upon us for a while, and it is only going to heat up over the next few months heading into what will be a historic presidential election no matter what happens. If you are a marketer in a contested state like Wisconsin, you may be wondering, “Is it even worth putting your message out there among the political ads and news coverage?” The answer is “yes.”

Here are a few tips for helping your brand not only survive, but thrive during silly season:

  1. Choose your media wisely: political campaigns spend most of their dollars on broadcast and cable TV.  That means that with increased demand and decreased availability, rates will go up. You may find yourself bumped for someone paying more money, or you might have to pay higher rates to keep your schedule intact. If you usually run a TV flight in the fall, you might want to consider radio, outdoor or online/mobile strategies instead. HOWEVER…if you do decide to use TV, your message will likely stand out as a refreshing change from a sea of politics, so it could be worth the extra budget.
  2. Piggyback off of preferences: candidates can be known for certain preferences, such as favorite foods or sports. Do you have a product or a service that might take advantage of that? If so, then use it. For example, Ronald Reagan was known to love jelly beans. The Jelly Belly factory (visitor’s center and warehouse are in Kenosha, WI) supplied Reagan with jelly beans all eight years of his presidency and sales grew exponentially. Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter were peanut farmers – peanut and peanut-related product sales grew significantly as a result.
  3. Stay above the fray: watch what you post on social media about politics and political candidates, especially if it could be perceived as disrespectful. It can get back to clients and customers. Best to follow the rule, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.”
  4. Timing is everything: while it’s probably not ideal to launch a new product on November 8, 2016, remember that November 9-11 might still be crowded with all the pent-up marketing that has been waiting until that day is done. November 14-23 is likely to be a grand time for advertising and PR for your product or service.
  5. Believe in your message: if you believe in your message and its value, then keep the word out there, no matter how silly this election season gets. Someone will be grateful you did and reward you with their customer loyalty.

A Once in a Lifetime Date- #61616

Earlier this year, one of our clients, METRO, decided to “reinvent” itself. While real-time update and trip planner apps and the introduction of new, more fuel efficient vehicles and mobile ticketing were garnering some interest from riders, the bus system was falling behind its goal of appealing to Millennials and other potential riders. So, when we found out National Dump the Pump Day falls on a once in a lifetime date this year, 6.16.16, it seemed like a no-brainer to kick of summer 2016 with a ridership event that will serve as a METRO brand relaunch. The event is largely social media driven, so we branded it #61616.

On #61616, four popular Cincinnati musical acts will play at four select METRO bus stops; two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Local radio stations will be at the four stops to excite people about the ridership event and promote riding METRO. In addition, there will be complimentary drinks and snacks at each stop for people to enjoy.

 Prior to the event, Cincinnati residents are being asked to take the pledge to ride METRO on #61616. Pledges can be made on the campaign’s microsite: www.METRO61616.com. By taking the pledge, people will receive a free METRO Day Pass and are automatically entered to win great raffle prizes, including concert tickets (Jimmy Buffett, anyone?) and restaurant gift cards.

Aside from branding the event and designing and maintaining the campaign microsite, we are incorporating both new and traditional media. Promotional tactics include print ads, radio commercials, online banner ads, promotional items (t-shirts and stickers!), and, of course, social media to attract Millennials.

While big events may be overwhelming for some, they are a great way to bring attention to a brand and introduce a new product, service, or feature. So, whether you’re planning a product launch or wanting to reintroduce your brand in a seemingly stagnant market, don’t be afraid to make the most of it! After all, it’s always best to “go big or go home,” right?