By this point in the process you pretty much know whom you’re going to be voting for come Nov. 8. In many cases you truly don’t like either of the two main candidates (debate performance certainly isn’t wooing you) and the secondary ones aren’t doing much of anything to garner your attention (other than forgetting the names of world leaders). This column is simply about how political marketing in 2016 is a different beast than any other form of marketing I have ever witnessed — and I hope may never see again.
This election cycle is one of personal attacks and insults being leveraged on both sides of the aisle (though one side relies a little more heavily on personal attacks). This strategy is not solely limited to the race for the White House. I’ve read personal attacks in flyers sent to my home for candidates in local elections, and I’ve seen op-ed columns that were clearly influenced in some way or another.
Whatever happened to the actual issues? What ever happened to an unbiased media? The media is apt to take either the far left or the far right because those are where the ratings are. The candidates tend to speak to one side or the other because the most outspoken voters, or those whom we should call the vocal minority, are responding to their catcalls.
This strategy of divisive messaging can’t be a sign of the future of politics, can it? There has to be a reckoning and a straightening of the path toward what the majority of people feel and believe, right? Not everyone is insane.
Marketing is defined as the “activity and processes of creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.” How does any of this current political climate offer anything of value to society at large? I was watching TV with my kids and I felt I needed them to leave the room when the debate was on.
When ads come on the TV for the current political options, I skip them so my kids won’t have to watch them. Even when “SNL” parodies are made of the current politicians I have to wait until my kids are gone to watch for fear that they will be negatively influenced by what they could see.
As I mentioned when I started this article, I don’t like politics or politicians — but now that I sit here and write this, I realize that not only do I not like them, but I am ashamed by them. How did this happen?
Imagine if a CPG brand solely advertised about how awful the other brands were, and how the people who ran the companies with those brands were horrible people. Imagine if the brands were allowed to lie about what ingredients make up their product and not be held accountable for their statements or actions. Would you feel good about having that product in your home?
The next month will see a dramatic increase in the number of political marketing messages targeted at you. Many of these messages will be half-truths. Some will be based on fear, uncertainty and doubt. I sincerely hope that somewhere in the messages will be plans for the future and real policy ideas with a basis in reality. I hope my kids will see those messages and not the name-calling and playground bullying that have dominated the process thus far. I hope the future will see an increase in the central populace getting a word in edgewise. I hope the world of politics will look back on 2016, shake its collective head and say, “enough is enough.”
I hope I can leave this whole election process of 2016 behind and still have hope. I hope.