Presidential Campaigning in the Media




Getting that message out to the voters - it's going to begin soon! The wonderful advertising round of the Presidential 2008 election season is about to get underway. Already, the major candidates have each blessed us with a "Holiday wishes" ad spot. It was brief, sweet, and to the point, and not shown too often, so that viewers don't spend the Holidays resenting the candidates, but with a definite air of "we'll be right back to pound you with the heavy advertising on January 2nd!" So, here's what kinds of hustling they're run on you, and its relative effectiveness.

Direct mail flyers - not nearly as successful as they used to be - even if you like the candidate, it's not like you're going to frame their pamphlet or anything. You'll probably just give it to the kids to color or fold it into an origami swan and send it away, like you do with all of your junk mail.

TV commercials - yes, they're on the list. What could I tell you about TV commercials that you didn't already know?

Radio ads - radio works better for local elections than it does for national ones. Don't count on hearing too many candidate ads on the radio, because talk radio is so segregated by party that anybody listening is already voting for that candidate's party anyway, and music radio is almost dead because Internet has replaced radio for music, whether legally by iPods or illegally by piracy. Most of the people listening to radio music are probably people too young or too indifferent to vote.

Newspaper and magazines - Print ads are a different story. They're always worth the money. And with the wide spread of the most diverse cast of candidates in history, they'll be looking for targeted voters in narrow demographics, which is just what magazines do best. No matter what your reading material of choice is, there's a candidate just for you this year, and they'll be smiling at you from the sidebar of your subscribed reads.

Web page ads - Now you're talking! Huge, animated ad banners are already popping up all over the Internet like zits at a prom, and they're made of Flash all the way. So they'll bounce, wiggle, blink, and frolic, and probably even talk. This is a good time to get adblock for you Firefox browser, which is becoming even more valuable than the mute button on your TV remote. This is the pick for the number one expenditure of ad dollars from the candidates.

Internet YouTube ads - Oh, another big one. They've already been going for quite a while now. This is one time you won't see claims of copyright infringement if you copy a video from YouTube to your blog - when it's a candidate plug! Candidates will be knocking themselves out to try to make hip, cool spots to post on video feed sights.

Internet blogs - Another big one with a bullet. Every candidate even remotely serious has a web site up, and this being the 21st century, a website is nothing without a blog. Blogs are useful for getting a message out to your supporters, getting feedback, and all the while keeping that close, cozy connection with the readers that only a blog can give. They'll either be maintained by campaign managers, or - in the case of underdog candidates, by the candidates themselves. Remember how it was said in 2004 that the Presidential race was won and lost in the blogs - count that double for this year.

Podcasting - This one's iffy. Podcasting is just like running a little TV or radio show out of your garage, so it's great for campaigning, but the problem is that podcasting just hasn't gained the tech-savvy audience that knows where to go or what to do with it yet. Better to leave it up to the occasional fan, who will be too happy to record the TV interview and cut a podcast for his blog readers to download.

"Viral" Internet marketing - Deadly poison. One candidate was stupid enough to try it, and he's in trouble for it, so the rest have learned fast from that mistake. The candidate shall not be named here, but he's too obscure for you to have known anyway - unless you visited a major social news site in the past six months and notices the deluge of link spam and the paid shills who were voting it all up and gushing how much they loved the candidate. When you fake a grassroots campaign on the Internet, it's called "astroturfing" - laying down fake grass. Make no mistake, this candidate's campaign is over, and he's under investigation by the FCC for felony Internet fraud right now, so he may even lose the office he currently holds. Not to mention that his own ploy backfired when he picked up some real grass-roots support with some money in it - from a racist hate-site. Yes, it may seem cheap to hire third-world spammers to viral-market for you, but it doesn't pay in the end.