Election-Themed Event Campaigns

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Using current events as the inspiration for event campaigns has been de rigueur for years. But with the 2016 presidential race hitting record awareness levels across all demographics in all 50 states, brands are accelerating their use of election-themed events and experiences this season.


Anheuser-Busch’s flagship Bud Light has followed up its ultra-successful WHATEVER USA program with a year’s worth of election-themed marketing, all connected to the all-new Bud Light Party campaign heralding a “Raise One to Right Now” semi-politico tagline. Above-the-line marketing and thousands of events are seeking to “unite the party” and drive engagement between the beer and the consumer. And just as the RNC and DNC conventions begin ramp up for late July, the Bud Light Party is reportedly ramping up to stage a massive event of its own in New York City this summer.


It’s just the latest move by marketers to create relevance with election-themed events that tap into what consumers are watching and talking about. And for added engagement, by definition an election brings people together to collaborate, converse and make group decisions.


Case in point: To promote the season four House of Cards opener, Netflix designed an experience they believed would generate big publicity for the show. And who better to target than the people who write the news–reporters. Journalists were already in South Carolina to cover a Republican primary in Greenville, and South Carolina is the home of Frank Underwood, the fictional president on House of Cards.


Netflix opened a virtual “campaign center” across the street from the Republican debate where weary political journalists were treated to a VIP media reception area. In this quiet sanctuary, the press corps could recharge in peace, enjoy free barbecue from Freddy’s Barbecue which is featured on the show, leather sofas, free massages, charging stations and samples of President Underwood’s beloved bourbon. Netflix targeted the experience to their audience by incorporating feedback from the press and blurring the lines between fiction and real news events.


JetBlue successfully pulled off an in-flight election themed activation on a recent flight from Boston to Phoenix. Passengers were told they might each win a free round-trip ticket to one of 20 destinations served by JetBlue. The catch was they must ALL agree on the destination by a unanimous vote—the decision to be reached within the constraints of the six-hour flight. The experience became a viral video that’s been viewed, shared and commented on by millions. JetBlue passengers were motivated to participate in this unique form of in-flight entertainment by the free travel offer and the opportunity to play a pivotal role in an election story that JetBlue called “Reach Across the Aisle.”


Look for more election-themed events to rise over the next six months as consumer attention—and sentiment—focuses on the November polls.


Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.