Random Election Eve Thoughts

Regular readers of AdPulp know we’ve covered a lot of politics this year. I personally followed it all closely this year, and so it seeps through onto this blog. But I think the 2008 election has been the biggest marketing event I’ve ever seen, and there are plenty of lessons consumer marketers and advertising people can apply.
This has truly been the year that voters, as consumers, became an active part of generating and spreading the message.
From viral videos to Facebook groups to spreading e-mails (no matter how true or spurious), the official campaigns have lost the tight control they once had. It only takes minutes for an event or a piece of news or video to spread worldwide. Put a video on YouTube and it gets copied to Facebook or blogs or a million other sites.
Consumer marketers don’t inspire the passion or commitment that political movements do. A brand could only wish it had the type of “ground game” that the Obama campaign organized. But brands can mean something, and stand for something.
I watch a lot of Fox and MSNBC and CNN, way too much in fact. These folks, the pundits and the so-called “strategists” have very little clue what REALLY moves people in America. They try to create the narrative, to tell viewers What It All Means, but they have no idea. If you want to understand America, get out and see it, without cameras and lights following you.
Marketers need to do a much better job of understanding what motivates people in this country. There are 300 million Americans, and we definitely don’t think alike. There are, however, plenty of ways to reach them. It takes much more empathy and relevance that most advertisers are willing to show.
I don’t know who’ll win tomorrow. Anything can happen. Polls, like advertising focus groups, are unreliable. And people don’t make rational decisions or even agree on the facts–they believe whatever they want to believe and then take action. If your client thinks his/her product is “the best” or claims some other superior quality, well, consumers will decide that for themselves.
What are your thoughts about this election season? Can you apply any lessons to your clients?



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.