5 Lessons From The McCain-Obama Presidential Race

31 10 2008

Politics is brass-knuckle marketing in the rawest imaginable form.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. The time to generate awareness and preference is tiny.There’s one winner, and one loser. And, the future of a nation rides on the decision.

No matter what your political preferences are, there’s a lot we can learn as marketers from this election. Here are 5 critical lessons from the 2008 Presidential race.

1. Welcome To The Desktop Democracy

Look at this user-generated video of “Palin as President: A Heartbeat Away”. Attack ads can (and do) now come from anywhere. The mouse is mightier than the sword, and can be tougher and smarter than Washington-insiders. And remember, it’s now as easy for an average consumer to skewer your brand as it is to skewer a politician.

2. The Desktop Democracy Is Both Blue and Red

There are plenty of pro-McCain/Palin videos online, too. Here’s one.

3. Plain Vanilla TV Still Matters

For all the talk about Obama’s digital efforts in mobile and on Facebook, his thirty-minute “infomercial” acknowledges an important truth: millions upon millions of heartland undecideds still watch plain old TV. And sight, sound and motion are still the best way to win hearts and minds.

4. Be Careful How Much You Stretch The Truth

You may be able to get your legal department and the networks to agree to let you stretch the truth of your claims. But, you soon may have to watch out for the watchdogs.

FactCheck.org is a nonpartisan, non profit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. Will this come to CPG marketing as well? Maybe, if marketers continue to stretch the truth too far.

5. Mobile Mobilizes.

Obama’s campaign has made brilliant use of mobile apps, especially for the iPhone.

This may not mean much if you’re hawking softer toilet tissue or peddling whitening and brightening toothpaste.

But, if you’re doing a cause-related marketing campaign, you may find there’s no stronger tool in any medium.

If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, I strongly suggest you get the Obama app and study what it does well.

Lastly, if you care about America, please vote for the candidate of your choice.

It’s even more important than marketing 🙂





Ad Age Mobile Roundtable

9 09 2008

An unusually useful article on mobile in today’s Ad Age: less “pie-in-the-handset” and much more “here’s what’s actually being done and how it’s working”.

Excellent, commonsense advice from Ogilvy’s Maria Mandel:

“A consumer is looking for one of three things. (…) information (…) entertainment (or) community (…) building interaction between people using their mobile devices?

Full article is here.





Modern Marketing: An Allegory

24 07 2008

The above video will teach you all you need to know about modern marketing.

The waterfall represents media budgets.

The spinning platform represents the day-to-day changes in business.

The slide represents freshly-minted executives, sliding into a bizarre situation they don’t understand. How can we be certain these are executives? Because they hit the ground running frantically, without asking anyone what they’re doing, or why. This is widely known as “process”.

The various penguins represent media: TV, radio, print, interactive, social media, and PR.

The penguin that almost always falls down and loses its budget is anything deemed “experimental”, including social media.

The penguin that *always* falls down and loses its budget is mobile.

The women represent media conglomerates.

The audience watching from the sidelines are traditional advertising agencies. Why are they on the sidelines?

They have been disintermediated.





IAB Leadership Forum: Mobile

21 07 2008

AUGUST 21 UPDATE: Dynamic Logic study finds that on average a mobile ad campaign boosted awareness by 23.9%. Full story here.

JULY 22 UPDATE: Download the IAB Mobile Platform Status Report (PDF).

Just spent a long but interesting day at the IAB Leadership Forum on Mobile marketing. A lot to digest, but here are the highlights:

  • Mobile really is a mass medium
  • The usual early testers (Unilever and P&G) are testing
  • Every company references these same few tests as proof that “big advertisers are moving their budgets to mobile”
  • On the plus side, dramatically less breathless hype than you’d expect. The mobile companies are sober, smart and working on the issues. This is a very positive sign.
  • Technology is all over the place. Significant creative challenge.
  • Inventory is going begging — deals can be made very easily.
  • Mobile search will be important. Lots of companies vying for success in this space. I wouldn’t declare Google the winner here quite yet.
  • Many big company execs are European. Makes sense when you think about it.
  • Company to watch: Millennial Media. Started by ex-Verizon and Advertising.com execs. Their 5 minute pitch was pretty compelling. Very nuts-and-bolts, but in all the right ways.




Mobile Video Grows

21 07 2008

Good post from Scott Monty of Ford here, with good data from eMarketer about where online video watching happens.  Unsurprisingly, he’s interested in mobile 🙂

Speaking of which, I’ll be at the IAB Mobile Event today. Excited: I have a lot to learn on this subject.





Mobile and Social Media

11 07 2008

Confession: if you’d asked me yesterday to name the top 5 mobile websites, I would have guessed they’d all be news and sports.

I would have been wrong: MySpace and Facebook are both in the top 5.

Here’s a great, insightful post from the indispensable GigaOM on what’s happening in mobile and social media.

If you have skeptics at your company who dismiss either — or both — as fads, this is a great counter-argument.

Just click here.





Clipper Comeback: Coupons Revived, More Digital Than Ever

7 07 2008

A new article in the Chicago Tribune says that after sixteen straight years of declining redemptions, coupons are back.

Digital skews younger and has higher redemption rates. And a new Google AdSense-like functionality called “Brandcaster” may change the game further.

Read the full article here. Some highlights:

  • “Huge leap” at Coupons Inc. starting last September. They also recently unveiled “Brandcaster“, which applies contextual targeting to couponing, e.g. someone reading online about healthy food might see a coupon for organic milk. General Mills, Kimberly-Clark. and Kraft are all trying this.
  • “Anything you can do by point and click, we’re more likely to do,” said 23 year old college student Ariel Redmon. She looks for online coupons, checking out blogs and sites devoted to coupon deals.
  • “It’s really easy (…) if you’re at a computer all day,” said 32 year old mom Julia Kozlov, who uses mainly online coupons
  • Digital coupons tend to have much higher usage rates than traditional paper coupons.
  • Both P&G and Unilever have teamed with Kroger to offer paperless coupons online.
  • Kroger is testing coupons via texting to cellphones through Cellfire.

I’m particularly fascinated by Brandcaster, and surprised I hadn’t heard of this until now. Targeting coupons based on interests should work incredibly well. (See Greg Sterling’s take on this here.) I would also tend to think it’s more likely to generate new trial than a coupon on a brand website. Does anybody out there know?

UPDATE 12/16/08: Some surprising tidbiits from a new study from Packaged Facts, from Media Post today:

  • Richer families use more coupons. Households earning $75,000+  are more active coupon users (71%) than households earning less than $25,000.
  • Usage is highest among those working in such white-collar functions as management, finance and administration.
  • Smaller households use coupons more than larger ones. Two-person households use more coupons than those with three or four people, and those with five or more people are least likely of all to use coupons.
  • Baby Boomers are more likely to use coupons to experiment with a new product: 12% more likely than average to sample new products this way.  This definitely seems to argue against the conventional wisdom that older people are less likely to change behavior.


Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alsokaizen/2471871893/