In 2020, political candidates will spend an all-time high in advertising, dispensing a projected $9.9 billion across TV, digital and social -- a marked increase over the 2018 ($8.7 billion) and 2016 ($6.3 billion) elections.
With the candidates eating up so much of the available inventory, how will your brand rise above the noise?
Will you make your mark in digital? Well, consider that many of the candidates are developing the equivalent of an in-house agency to manage the digital marketing process, with next year’s digital ad-spending forecast to reach $2.8 billion as candidates clamor to demonstrate their viability and target smaller donors.
How about TV? As always, the election cycle will devour significant TV ad inventory.
Kantar recently reported that during the final weeks of the last election cycle, spot advertisers’ share of voice dropped from 71% to 51%. Political advertising took up 43% of the available slots on local news in battleground markets, compared to just 10% at the start of the season.
If the viewership numbers of the first Democratic debates are any indication of what lies ahead, it appears the public is already primed to be immersed in the 2020 election cycle. Over 15 million viewers tuned into the first debate across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, while over 27 million viewed the second debate (18.1 million via TV and another 9 million via online streaming).
Considering the third Trump-Clinton debate in 2016 earned 71.6 million viewers (behind only Trump-Clinton’s first debate at 84 million and Carter-Reagan at 80.6 million), we can expect the 2020 presidential debate viewership to increase significantly.
And take note: the political parties are getting smarter about their media plans, requiring the networks live-stream the debates to increase reach, especially among that elusive, highly desirable millennial audience.
In fact, the very nature of the 2020 political calendar (and beyond) is structured with major tentpoles dominating the cultural conversation every quarter. Consider the following:
What’s a brand with a message to do? Where will you turn when planning your 2020 strategy, knowing the incoming deluge of politics across all media that awaits? How can brands connect meaningfully with consumers when the national media conversation is dominated by politics?
Let’s start by giving the people what they want, which is -- you guessed it -- a respite from the indefatigable coverage of the 2020 cycle. They will likely turn to content that makes them happy and activates a more creative, curious part of their brain.
To provide this, and to avoid the glut of in-market political messaging, consider turning to less traditional means but highly engaging ways to communicate your brand’s message:
And if you’re really daring or just tuned into the fact that people are looking for ways to unite and not fight, come out with a message that emphasizes the humanity in all of us.
The Alzheimer’s Association did this brilliantly in the most recent debates. Their TV spot acknowledged the red/blue divide and turned it into something that everyone can rally behind: “Red + Blue=Purple, the Color of the Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association is leading that fight. Divided we fail, but united we win.”
You don’t have to take sides to be heard. After all, we’re all just humans trying to make it through a tumultuous political year — even us marketers.