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Can Politics Kill a Brand? Digital Marketing is Drowning with Campy Rhetoric

Posted on Posted in Graphic Design Degree

It almost seems like a never-ending story with the political rhetoric crossing paths with media campaigns across the board. While humorous and campy political satire has revived shows such as SNL and Alec Baldwin’s career, people like Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon are paving the way for the show’s brand to streamline once again. Even though jumping on the political bandwagon may be boosting the ratings with the 42-year-old show, there are plenty of other brands that beg to differ.

A good example of the campaign killed by politics and current events is that of Budweiser during Superbowl LI. In retrospect, the ad was well done and had stayed on target with storytelling marketing. As a period, piece, this commercial outlined the quest for living the American Dream depicted by the founder of Anheuser. There was little politics in the opinion of many people. However, this commercial caught a ton of heat from media saying it was incorrect and racist. On the opposite side of the spectrum, this million-dollar television spot gained 62.78 million followers across their social media channels. In fact, 60% of the top ten brands made ads that were focused on political issues such as equal pay and immigration so does it make sense for the brand or cents?

In most cases business schools and perhaps even your peers may claim to stay away from politics and other touchy subjects like religion etc., But, has a shift taken place leading us on a different path and one we marketers should tread on very lightly? Or is including robust active methods of controversy healthy for a brand’s future?

Historically speaking this form of advertising is nothing new. Media campaigns from the TV ads of the 40’s was hugely impacted by political rhetoric. In addition to the driving forces of politics intermingling with television, many of the advertising firms were owned and operated by people from both republican and democratic parties. These companies recognized the opportunities in front of them that outlined meaningful ads that supported brands. Those same brands supported their political parties and POV’S.

While it may seem like including politics or controversy in your marketing mix is beneficial, we can only say to err of the way of caution. Racial tension, False Advertising, and an entire slew of other issues could arise and kill a brand’s reputation. In most cases, it’s best to use politics wisely when it comes to marketing. These types of everyday agency dilemmas are important to discuss openly with co-workers and especially with clients before presenting your ideas. Once a media campaign is rolled out, thousands of people will form opinions based on the content. Your customers brand and their best interest should always be at the forefront of your creative.

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