It turns out there is no rock big enough to hide under that would insulate us from the madness that is the 2016 election campaign – trust us, we looked. But even when the future well-being of one of the world’s only superpowers is at stake, there’s still a lot of fun that can be had with political advertising.
For ad nerds like ourselves, there’s nothing more fun than offering our professional opinions on the logos and slogans that we’re gradually being surrounded by every day. Election branding and political advertising is EVERYWHERE: on signs, on shirts, on cars, and even in a kitchen closet near you.
Hillarity (hah!) aside, we’re just getting to the best part of the election, at least from a creative point of view. The silent unveiling of shiny new promotional elements in logos and slogans is an important election milestone that lets bloggers like us have fun. Not that arguing the intricacies of foreign and domestic policy isn’t fun, of course.
The Slogan Battle – Individualism vs Collectivism
Sure, you could visit campaign websites and find clear policy differences between the presidential contenders, but why do that when you can just read a lawn sign? No, seriously – there is no bigger contrast between the two front-runners than their campaign slogans which accurately summarize their political goals. “Make America Great Again”, Donald Trump’s mantra, is perhaps the most all- encompassing slogan seen in decades of American politics. It describes his overseas strategy that seeks to reclaim greatness by squashing other powers around the globe.
More philosophically, it speaks to the individualistic “work hard for what you want” approach to life is often considered deeply American. “Make America Great Again” is a call to action that Trump claims can only be solved by his election to the nation’s highest office. The implicit argument is that America’s shift to multi-culturalism and international co-operation is the wrong path. This resonates especially well with older demographics, who tend to remember their youth as “the good old days”, but it raises eyebrows among the generally more forward-thinking young voters. Despite that, there’s no denying that Trump’s slogan will go down as one of the catchiest of all time whether he wins or loses.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton makes the claim that Americans are “Stronger Together”. This slogan has the unwritten second sentence of “weaker divided”, which is a silent characterization of Trump as an “every man for himself” kind of guy. Interestingly, Clinton’s slogan seems to be less about her campaign goals and more about the Democrats as a brand. It debuted around the time that it became mathematically impossible for rival challenger Bernie Sanders to become the democratic nominee, then picked up steam with the announcement of Tim Kaine as her running mate.
“Stronger Together” was almost certainly engineered to be difficult to disagree with, which helps when Clinton’s trustworthiness numbers remain a sore spot for her campaign. You’re not going to find someone who argues against the strength of community and international co-operation, but you will find persons debating whether Clinton is relatable enough to be branded a uniting leader.
A lot of slogans are one-dimensional in political advertising, either propping up one candidate or slamming all the others in one spell with copywriting fury. Few are able to do both at the same time, and yet both Trump’s and Clinton’s have accomplished this.
The New Battle – Social Media Messaging
With the media industry expanding into new audiences and markets at a breakneck pace, it has to be hard for a Presidential candidate to get favorable coverage. That’s what the new avenues opened up by the social media era so crucial to political advertising. Their ever-changing nature means that political strategists have to learn the lingo of the 21st century, and it’ about time too. We have seen both Trump and Clinton use live video features to grant curious followers unfiltered access to campaign rallies, and the results have been fascinating to watch. Facebook Live can put a boy from The Bahamas in the midst of a Clinton rally, uninterrupted by ads and breaking news tickers. Snapchat filters can let the college sophomore know that Donald Trump will be speaking at their campus in a matter of hours. Sponsored posts with laser- focused targeting can raise awareness for third party candidates like Governor Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein. In Social Media, there are no winners or losers – just a ton of impressions and engaging content. That sounds good to us marketers everywhere.
Americans may be many things this election season – frustrated, confused and scared to name a few – but indifferent is not one of them. It turns out that when controversial candidates and modern marketing mix together, you get millions of voters with that have just as many opinions as they have different platforms to express them on.