What an interesting study in marketing, at least in my opinion, to closely examine the Republican victory in the 2004 presidential election! The New York Times ran a great story today about the strategy that led to the Bush victory. The victory was less about politics, promises and public apperances, than it was about the kinds of tactics that we use every day in marketing to help our clients succeed.
In the weeks that followed the election, I have heard Andy Card and others from the Bush team talk about how they focused on reaching and persuading undecided, likely voters in exurban areas. It's what won them the White House.
Well, talk about specificity. Wow!
It's far easier to talk about an undecided, likely-voter, exurban resident than it is to identify one. I am more than just a little impressed that the Bush team used marketing/research tactics like psychographic analyis and cohort analyis to precisely pinpoint those most critical, must-win precincts. And while it's tough to identify such a specific group, it is even trickier to understand that group with sufficient depth to be able to persuade it. Therefore, I am downright blown away by the fact that the Republican marketing geniuses were able to drill down into data to discover how to most effectively communicate with this voting sector.
The whole NYT story is excellent, but here's an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Donny Deutsch, the New York advertising guru, said that now, "the selling of a candidate is no different from the smart media buying for toothpaste and automobiles, especially as people fragment their media habits."
As the Bush team analyzed the data, stark differences between the viewing habits of Republicans and Democrats quickly emerged. The channels with the highest proportion of Democrats were Court TV and the Game Show Network; for Republicans, Speedvision and the Golf Channel.
During the week, Republicans switch off the tube earlier than Democrats do. (Republicans who stay up are more likely to tune in to Jay Leno, while Democrats flock to David Letterman.) Such revelations persuaded the Bush team to alter its media-buying strategy. In 2000, the campaign spent 95 percent of its media budget on network television; this year, that dropped to 70 percent.
View accompanying graphic.
The victorious Bushies used such insights to help formulate messages and depict settings that would resonate strongly and meaningfully with the desired (micro-targeted) sectors of the audience that were crucial to Bush's success. It also helped the campaign directors to know where to focus advertising resources ... and where not to use ads to get their persuasive messages across.
A final observation ... the article also speaks to the power and beauty of a multi-faceted marketing strategy in which messages are synchronized across all tactics. This is nirvana for a marketing 'geek' like me:
Mr. Dowd of the Bush campaign agreed up to a point. "What is discussed in earned media is more important than what's on the paid media," he said of news versus advertising. "But if they are in concert and the message is consistent, it has a tremendous effect."
Spoken like a true marketing genius, Mr. Dowd!
Again, the entire story is well worth a read.