Brands Take Risks During Campaign Season

By DonkeyHotey

Republican Elephant & Democratic Donkey – 3D Icons By DonkeyHotey

Winning & losing campaign picks

Most of us had had more than enough politics after the national election concluded Nov. 8. But adding a welcome diversion during the long and highly divisive campaign season were the brands who ran politically-themed campaigns of their own.

Tying a marketing campaign to a widely-followed news story is a time-tested strategy. Like any other, it doesn’t come without risks. This time around, some brands came up with successful ideas that warmed hearts or tickled funny bones, while others careened off the road with concepts that didn’t resonate.

Here are some impressions on the politically-themed messaging we just witnessed.

Pedigree’s lost dog won big

Pedigree exceeded expectations by making the most heart warming ad showing how a lost dog can unite the extremes of our two major parties. During what many consider one of the ugliest campaign seasons in history, Pedigree does everything people could hope an election might achieve by bringing out the good in its subjects. Pedigree made the most emotionally engaging ad, but they also risked losing the product they were trying to promote in all of the feel good emotions of the story line.


GoDaddy was this campaign’s biggest loser

GoDaddy fell on the polar opposite of the spectrum bringing out everything that consumers hate to see when marketers try to capitalize on an election. The ad usmoviees the GoDaddy cartoon web icon face in place of the face of the speaker standing at the podium in a way that looks cheap. The camera zooms in on different people’s faces in the crowd, and even they don’t look convinced. While the ad offers a pretty good bargain rate for owning a domain, the way in which the ad attempts to fit the times only reminds people of the things that they dislike about such a long and divisive campaign.


Jeep won but has its detractors

Jeep’s election-themed advertisement was well received for its message of uniting people from both sides. Jeep’s ad featured two vehicles as one, with only their color and political bumper stickers separating them from one another. The song by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) called If You Want To Sing Out fit the proud-to-be-American mood with Jeep’s statement about being free. However, the song triggered a debate among commenters on YouTube as to whether or not the songwriter supports terrorism based on his choice of religion and name change. While Jeep made what has been noted as one of the most winning campaign-based advertisements of the year, the risk of using this particular artist illustrates the narrow margin for error of this strategy.


Audi showed a product worth fighting for

While some marketing played on consumers’ desire for unification, Audi played on the idea of a duel to represent the political battle between the parties while also featuring its product in a premium placement. The Audi ad runs like an action film and the fact that it is run backward from finish to start leaves enough mystery to keep the viewer intrigued right up to the final product. The ad is artfully created and much like watching James Bond meets Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill complete with a slightly humorous lobster kitchen fight scene. Audi’s ad strikes a great balance where the brand doesn’t get in the way of the fast entertaining action, but it doesn’t get lost either. Audi gives a subtle punch at the perfect moment leaving the viewer with only a memory of the product that they intended to promote.


Tecate’s beer united drinkers over a wall

Tecate straddled the wall between being enjoyed for its absurd humor and being criticized for being offensively tasteless when it made light of the charged topic of immigration. It may very well take a few beers to fully enjoy the humor of a storyline in which beer unites two countries over a wall that they are building together. Many viewers found the ad funny, while others felt it made light of a dangerous situation. It is open negotiation whether Tecate’s ad managed to leave a lasting (and positive) impression.


How did these and other campaign-based ads strike you? Let us know in the comments below!


About Diana

Diana Kurzka is an Associate Director with expertise in Education, operations, marketing and the Arts. She supports our Marketing Team as Web Content Manager.