Political Advertising & Why It Sucks

Image of 2012 Election from Cain and Todd Benson on FlickrYou’ve all seen the commercials. Dark, grainy images. Ominous music. Worried, concerned people sitting at a kitchen table. Cherry picked and misleading statistics. Unhappy children and grandmothers. Then… the earnest, camera-facing candidate. Huge flags.

I do not approve of these messages. Not because they’re for one candidate or another, not because they’re driving all of us insane. It’s because, for the most part, they’re not good marketing. All they do is tell me what’s wrong with the competitor, not what’s good about the product they’re selling. Millions are spent on these morbid, overwrought productions, yet they are neither clear nor concise. They don’t inform or enlighten or enhance. They simply unsettle.

Perhaps it’s because these candidates don’t have unique selling propositions. Maybe they don’t have anything positive to say. Perhaps it’s just because they think that we are too dumb to understand the differences in policy. Maybe it’s easier to run on fear. After all, fear can sell things – just look at the market for antibacterial products.

But choosing someone to represent us is a little more important than picking up a hand sanitizer because we’re afraid of the bird flu. And when something is that important, it would be great to hear real, actual, actionable approaches to the problems we face. It would be great to see something interesting and engaging — something with substantive content to help us make an informed choice.


When the only response you get to your marketing is “Boy, I’ll really be glad when this is over,” there’s something wrong with your strategy. And that’s not good marketing.

Photo Credit: Flickr’s Cain and Todd Benson

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