How to Survive Election Season

And just like that, we’re less than one year from the next presidential campaign. What does that mean for advertisers? 

Clutter. Competing voices on every platform imaginable for their message to be heard. Every four years, election season chaos washes over us like an unexpected tsunami… and that’s reasonable given the fact that each new cycle seemingly breaks the spend records created by the election season before it.

As a brand, there are ways to mitigate the stress of 2020.  Before you hyperventilate from anxiety or throw in the towel altogether, I got you. 

Ultimately, you want to be remembered. My answer to the challenge: don’t underestimate the power of audio or the importance of your strengths.

Here are a few ways to ensure that your communications are the ones people hear amidst the cacophony of election ads.

Make sure people know what your brand sounds like. Audio cues work differently than visual cues, and how you sound matters more and more as new platforms emerge.  



Even if you’re planning 100% television buys, remember that as of 2017, “70% of US adults 'second-screen' while watching TV”.  You can’t count on people looking at the television while watching anymore, so your audio must play a bigger role in the creative.

Be consistent.

It might be a tall order, but the halo you get from people remembering your audio logo or even your jingle stretches the budget. Utilize your audio identity everywhere your brand message is (TV, radio, streaming, podcasts, hold music, events, etc.) to strengthen association.

It takes less than a second for the human brain to respond to sound; your job is to ensure that second matters.

Stand out and write for the medium.

Don’t just get creative… You need to either entertain people or inform them if you want to connect. This is my creative shop’s guiding principle. Every moment must capture the audience with something that’s in it for them. 

We all know that context is important, yet brands repurpose ads for different media all the time. This matters even more when almost every platform is awash with political ads. If you’re the ad that acknowledges the context, you have a better shot at being noticed.

Listening to your favorite radio station is very different from listening to a true crime podcast on Spotify and even further from watching the news on your local television station. The way you communicate to each audience should reflect the headspace they’re in at the time of your message.

Find a partner who understands the importance of nuanced messaging. It doesn’t have to be too complicated, but it needs to be considered.

Keep your eyes on your own paper (as my mom used to say).

Stay away from the political fray… unless you’re looking to wage a battle with consumers. Some brands are more innately part of the political conversation, but that doesn’t mean you need to jump in. If anything, an election year should be the moment where the brand’s creative exponentially focuses on the benefit you bring to people - your brand strengths.  

2020 is going to a heavy, divisive year, and election season can bring the cynic out in everyone. This could be your moment to reassure consumers that everything’s going to be okay (in whatever way you can - no matter how small).

If you’re looking to engage with your political viewpoint, you can ignore this point… but be prepared for the potential torrent of feedback. 

Now, rest up… then gather the teams and set yourself up for a successful election season.

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