How Political Advertising Affects Us as Marketers


Bryan LeFauve
3 Minute Read

$10.8 billion is a lot of money. More than a quarter of the countries in the world do not generate that much in GDP annually. Yet, that is how much has been spent in 2020 on political election advertising in the U.S. according to the Center for Responsive Politics. With Election Day two weeks away, spending will only increase, and the ads will only become more obtrusive.

As marketers, we must deal with the onslaught of political advertising that has become commonplace, not just in presidential election years, but almost every year. Even if you are not responsible for placing media on behalf of a political candidate (when you have to worry about the lowest unit rates, cash upfront buys, and shifting creative), you need to be aware of how political advertising affects your brand, even if you’re not in the race.

Share of Voice

The biggest challenge for marketers in the run up to an election is gaining share of voice above the yelling and screaming of politics. Marketers must rely on targeted advertising that will gain consideration in one or two exposures versus hoping that campaigns gain enough reach and frequency over the flight to get noticed. Add to the fact that studies show consumers suffer from significant advertising fatigue during election cycles, and you have a very limited window to engage consumers. Defaulting to less targeted audiences can be an easy way to get drowned out among the white noise. The solution is focusing on specific audiences and targeted messaging that will speak to them directly and increase the opportunity for engagement. As we’ve previously discussed, now is the time to research the best placements for your audience and shift your budgets to the top performers, even if it means relying on fewer channels.

Perception of a Brand’s Politics

While some companies come out in strong support of specific candidates as part of their brand, most companies try to stay out of the political fray. Even with the Supreme Court ruling allowing for business entities to weigh in on political issues, most companies understand the potential minefield of directly declaring for one side or the other. However, with social media and donor databases being public, anyone can dig deeper to find out what the owners, management, and employees of a business support. And that support reflects on the brand in the eyes of most consumers. It is up to us as marketers to understand what that indirect support means to the business and be prepared to respond to consumers with a truthful and compelling story for that support. Otherwise, a brand risks alienating potential segments of its customer base even without stating a direct support message.

The time is now to learn how political advertising may affect your brand and consider altering your strategies accordingly. While the election will be behind us in a few weeks, the cycles get longer, and the time between campaigns shorter. What you learn now will ultimately save you time and money when the next election cycle begins…in December.

If you want to improve your advertising strategy, but need some help choosing the best path forward, drop us a line. We’d love to have a conversation.