Advertising and Elections

When we make the decision to purchase a low involvement product, such as a cup of coffee, milk or a packet of tissues, we are likely to rely on basic heuristics and simple processes to arrive at that decision.

When we engage in political debates, with our friends, family, colleagues or ourselves, we use logical arguments and evidence to justify our opinion. Of course, this is a vast oversimplification of the nature of political debates and elections, but the core principles are still true to a significant extent.

May v Corbyn: Source

Clearly, choosing a political leader or party for an election is a high involvement process that demands the full potential of our rational and empirical reasoning. All in all, I imagine that my choice is fully reasoned, based on evidence and clear rational thinking.

Decades of politics, however, reveal that an election’s outcome depends not only on the merits and core value of the candidates presented, but largely on the success of their efforts in advertising. This is obvious given that elections always involve campaigns; an election campaign is an advertising campaign for a product – the candidate or political party being represented.

What I would like to draw attention to is the idea that we may not even need to look at the substance of a campaign to be able to predict the outcome of an election. To predict an election’s outcome we can simply analyse each campaign from a marketing perspective and judge them like we would an IMC strategy; asses their merits as an ‘advertising strategy.’

With the advent of digital marketing and the wealth of data that the internet provides on customers, or electors, it seems clear that political parties will try to reach you with greater precision and effectiveness, just as any commercial brand or company does for their own products and services.

Indeed, I am stating this after having read Mark Riton’s own predictions based on his analysis of the UK election from a digital advertising perspective. Amidst the complexities of political and social issues, embarrassing scandals and vicious advertising, we may be able to predict results based on a qualitative and quantitative analysis of each election campaign.

I do believe, however, that the quality of the campaign impacts only a limited portion of election results, but a nonetheless important portion.

It may be a little frightening to consider your own vote as just another commercial decision, just like the choice for any service or product. Regardless of what noble ideas we may have about our decision, they are always influenced by deeper psychological processes that we may never truly understand.

If you would like to gain an insight into exactly how it is that one could predict the outcome of an election based on advertising/marketing analysis, have a read through Mark Ritson’s recent article on the issue. Right now, Ritson’s predictions are looking quite accurate.




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