UM Finds Madison Avenue Gets Democrats' Vote, GOP Is Less Sanguine

Democratic delegates are meeting in Denver this week to formally nominate their next presidential candidate, but the party already has cast its vote in favor of Madison Avenue. That's the conclusion of a comprehensive analysis of the different demographic, lifestyle, and perhaps most significantly, the media habits and advertising attitudes separating registered members of the DNC and their rivals in the Grand Old Party. As it turns out, it's not so grand for advertisers and agencies seeking to reach and sway Republican voters, according to findings of the study by Universal McCann.

The report, which draws from UM's ongoing Media in Mind consumer tracking study, finds that Republican voters are far more resistant to advertising messages than Democrats, are more likely to be influenced by editorial coverage, suggesting that public relations, not advertising, might be a better channel for impacting their brand and voting decisions.

Asked if they were more likely to be influenced by a "favorable news story" or by advertising, Republican voters significantly under-indexed in their views about advertising and over-indexed in their attitudes toward news coverage vs. the overall U.S. population. Democrats had the exact opposite patterns, being more likely to be influenced by advertising and less likely by news coverage.



"I would say that PR is a strong route through" to influence Republican voters, concludes Graeme Hutton, senior vice president-director of consumer insights at UM. Hutton, however, said advertising isn't necessarily a weak channel for influencing Republicans, but that marketers and agencies need to ensure that advertising aimed at Republican voters must be "inventive, entertaining and relevant" to breakthrough their preconceived notions about ads.

"We have to be more targeted, more relevant, and more authentic in the way we communicate with them," he suggested.

When it comes to the media habits separating the two parties, Hutton described the differences as virtual clichés.

"They are their own stereotypes," he said, noting that members of the GOP are more likely to read magazines such as American Rifleman (the highest indexing among members of the party), and Guns & Ammo, while registered Democrats are prone to read titles such as The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly.

When it comes to their TV viewing preferences, the highest indexing cable network among Republicans are Fox News Channel, the Military Channel, and The Golf Channel. Among Democrats, they are BET, Soap Net, and Bravo.

When it comes to their use of digital media, Republicans are more prone to be early and active adopters. The UM paper found Republicans far more likely than Democrats to use the Internet for many aspects of their daily routine, but Hutton said this is likely due to some of the socio-economic differences between registered voters of the two parties, and the fact that Republicans tend to have higher incomes and can afford more media technology.

Nonetheless, Hutton applauded the Barack Obama campaign's decision to inform vice presidential running mate Joe Biden via a text message that proved to be a public relations boon. He said it signaled that the ticket was hip to the preferred means of communicating among America's youth culture.

If the medium is the message, and you want to indicate change than using the media that way was very smart," he said, adding, that it perhaps might have been an even smarter move for the Republicans, given their penchant for new media.

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