New York — Various businesses are currently utilizing the upcoming presidential election as a way to promote their own brands, products and services, through innovative election-themed marketing campaigns.
A number of companies, such as FedEx, Pizza Hut, Cabbage Patch Dolls, JetBlue Airlines, and Heaven Hill Distilleries (the company is marketing their “Red State Bourbon” and “Blue State Bourbon”) among others, have built extensive campaigns wrapped around the election.
Gyms have even jumped on the bandwagon. New York Sports Club recently launched their “Fit For Office” exercise campaign, complete with circuit-style workout stations, with names such as “Balancing The Budget”. Runners can also share their voting preferences, by choosing to run on either a blue-wrapped or red-wrapped treadmill.
As the election itself is a momentous event, companies are finding it wise to connect it with their marketing efforts. “Using current events, trends and highly visible social events, which engage a consumer’s interest, allow the brand to experience the awareness of these events, which heightens the brand’s product or service,” said New York University Professor Jonathan Banner, who teaches courses in marketing and public relations.
Companies are aware that many consumers have emotional associations with the election, and use that to their advantage. “The election-themed campaigns exploit two phenomena well understood by cognitive psychologists – issue salience and cognitive priming. Since the majority of consumers are engaged with the election and find the election an emotionally-charged event, they are likely to respond to any commercial message linked to the election,” said Professor Vladimir Pashkevich, who teaches courses in business management, marketing and public relations at Marymount Manhattan College.
Businesses must be able to generate constant awareness toward their election-themed campaign, in order for it to be the most profitable. “That awareness needs to be consistently rebuilt week after week and companies that are in high volume (and low-loyalty businesses) need to constantly reinforce that awareness in the mind of the consumer,” said Banner.
The success of a particular company’s marketing campaign in relation with the election simply depends on how well their campaign is implemented and how well it reaches their target demographic. “Each advertising execution is different and each brand has a different set of features, benefits, customers and goals,” said Banner.
Many of these election-themed campaigns tend to reach out to young voters, who in turn, tend to be skeptical of the company’s true intentions. Lauren Leyva, a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, believes that businesses should not use the election as a method of marketing their products. “I don’t think private companies should be getting involved in the election, or use it as a way of marketing. They have their own biases and their own motives,” said Leyva.
Despite the success of election-themed marketing campaigns throughout the weeks leading up to the election, the campaigns may not be as beneficial in generating long-term profit and popularity. “The individual’s interest in the business using election-themed messages may not outlast his or her enthusiasm for the election results being pursued at the moment. The business needs to be prepared to introduce another theme shortly after the election,” said Pashkevich.