Promote the Vote

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

It’s time again in our country’s democratic cycle to elect those who will shape and influence the economic, environmental, international and societal policies affecting each and every one of us on a professional and personal level. Eyes around the world will be focused on the presidential race as we elect (or re-elect) the next leader of the free world.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in “hard” and “soft” money are being spent by the presidential hopefuls for TV to sling mud and tear each other apart.

What if? What if these political camps used promotional marketing to engage potential voters in a more positive and influential way? Isn’t influencing and motivating consumer behavior at the very heart of promotional marketing?

What’s that have to do with politics? Let’s make the political process fun for everyone. Let’s make all of the brave men and women who valiantly fought for our freedom and democracy proud of the process. Let’s encourage everyone who is willing and able to vote to indeed exercise that right. If the 2000 presidential elections taught us anything — aside from the difference between a pregnant chad and a hanging chad — it’s that each individual vote does indeed count.

It’s true that political strategists and consultants have not relied solely on television advertising to “get their message across.” They canvass neighborhoods, go door-to-door and visit local business establishments to shake hands and kiss babies. They flood the market with flyers and posters. They call our homes. They imprint candidates’ names onto buttons, hats and T-shirts. And, they use the Internet to interact with constituencies and raise money.

What about an integrated role for promotion? Why couldn’t a candidate deliver a FSI? What a great way to deliver a mug shot and targeted message into 55 million households full of soccer moms and NASCAR dads. It could be integrated with in-store media like floor graphics and cart ads to get the vote out in ’04.

Or, what if the campaigns use shopper loyalty card data to send targeted mailings, perhaps with a couple of coupons for “all-American” brands to help associate the candidate with attributes like trust, strength and confidence. (I don’t mean Bush Beans or Heinz Ketchup — John Kerry’s wife is a Heinz heiress — not that anything is wrong with these brands.)

How about a contest where voters submit a 50-word essay on why said candidate would make a great president (or senator, congressman, freeholder)? Uploaded to the Internet, these messages would certainly be more credible than the fear-mongering we have grown accustomed to.

Campaign operatives can distribute flyers at lifestyle intersects, each imprinted with a code number. Recipients could visit the candidate’s Web site for more background, positions on critical issues and key points-of-difference. They would also be given the chance to randomly win a $100 U.S. Savings Bond when they enter their code number (and candidates would collect names for future mailings).

Family-values and education seem to be major platforms for both political parties. Candidates could invite families to local theaters on successive Saturday mornings for free movies. The candidate would talk to prospective voters through a five-minute trailer before the movies started, in theaters all across the state and/or country.

If all else fails, we could always implement a “money-back guarantee” if we as a nation were unsatisfied with our chosen candidate’s performance. On second thought, didn’t California implement a similar tactic — the 2003 recall?

Regardless, promotional marketing is a powerful tool that could help influence voters by being completely integrated with a campaign’s huge media budgets. After all, isn’t that what we want our brands to do to maximize spending, reach and success?

Oh, and one other thing…don’t forget to vote!

Bob Petrosino is president of Ryan Partnership’s Chicago office. He can be reached at (312) 595-0281.


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