Political advertising isn’t like other advertising. In many cases, it’s not nearly as good. There are copious reasons for this, ranging from minuscule budgets to the client’s hatred of marketing, and a widely held belief in political circles that a candidate’s positions and policies matter most.
Thankfully, there are a few rays of sunshine bursting through the dark clouds. OZY introduces us to one such ray of light.
Acronym has taken hardly any time in breaking the strategy-firm ecosystem in the nation’s capital. By the end of 2018, it had raised and managed more than $18 million, registered 60,000 voters, run 105 targeted ad campaigns in 15 states, helped elect 63 progressive candidates and won 61 percent of the races it invested in. Its staff has grown from five to 38 and it has quickly become one of the go-to digital organizing forces for everyone from Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List to Everytown for Gun Safety and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Here’s a small sample from Acronym’s reel:
The IRS classifies Acronym as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit — meaning a majority of its funds must be used to promote “social welfare.” And yet, Acronym has a web of for-profit companies beneath it: a campaign consulting firm (Lockwood Strategy), a political tech company with a peer-to-peer texting product (Shadow) and a media company investing in local left-leaning outlets (FWIW Media). In the works is an apparel arm (Rogue Swag).
The OZY article argues that political firms have long specialized in selling specific services: phone calls, direct mail, polls, etc. Today, that can mean separate firms for online videos, TV ads and even paid Facebook outreach vs. organic Facebook outreach, which leads consultants to push for more spending in their individual silos, as opposed to Acronym’s strategy to fold everything under one umbrella — making winning their chief incentive.
Once upon a time in Adland, we called this integrated marketing. I still call it integrated marketing. Whatever you call it and whichever vertical you’re servicing, the bottom line is someone has to see the whole field of play, and then know how to strategically marshal the resources needed to win. Many people think that’s the client’s job, and perhaps it is. What it can’t be is no one’s job.