25 January 2009

The Obama vs McCain Advertising War

No doubt about it: Obama’s campaign will become a blueprint for modern political advertising. Some stats…

$800M – total amount spent by the two candidates ($300M more than 2004)

$3M+ – cost of airing Obama’s 30-minute infomercial

1,543 – number of McCain ads in a single day in 7 states

3,160 – number of Obama ads in the same period/areas

3 to 1 – ratio of Obama adspend vs McCain

3,000,000 – number of text messages Obama sent to announce Biden’s candidacy

Obama scored big with his use of emerging media platforms. His decision to announce the choice of Joe Biden as candidate for Vice President by text-messaging 3 million mobile users was a coup, and was followed with a mobile website offering news updates and videos.

On the other hand, McCain is widely reckoned to have won the internet search battle, deploying search optimization more effectively by buying keywords that related to the Obama campaign. So if you searched for "Obama for president" you got a McCain ad headlined: "Why not learn more about John McCain for president".

However, Obama was more open to experimenting resulting in greater youth appeal. The Obama website became a social networking site, allowing people to set up their own "my.barackobama.com" pages, and sent regular emails with campaign updates.

Obama also bought wholeheartedly into the marketing trend for dialogue, encouraging people to interact with the Obama brand via user-generated content. The result was a proliferation of YouTube videos, songs and home-made ads in support of his campaign.

One of the reasons the Obama ad campaign has proved so potent is that, insiders say, his campaign team was empowered to respond quickly – as any advertiser using immediate media such as the internet or mobile absolutely must. Approval lines and times were made uncommonly short, very unlike how most advertisers are comfortable operating.

(Alas, Team Obama's example is something that our local candidates have yet to embrace. Majority of the presidentiables have committees that decide for them. So, quite often, decisions are gutless... neither here nor there. Everyone keeps forgetting that... the camel was invented by a committee.)