Romney’s 2nd Biggest Marketing Mistake

Hey PACs, Lighten Up!

Since I live in Ohio, I was shocked by the vault of money wasted on negative advertising by the Romney campaign. But you didn’t have to live in a battleground state to feel the same way.

No marketing consultant worth a hill of Cheetos would ever recommend negative advertising for a brand. It is one of the most documented mistakes in advertising studies.

Never Be Negative in Advertising

“Never, never, never be negative” is one of the fundamental rules of advertising science. I can remember Larry Huston, Worldwide Innovation VP for Procter & Gamble shouting that at me after I made some blunder in my early career.

Consumers always tune out negative ads. It is a well known fact.

So why did the Romney campaign wander so far into the dark side? And why is negative advertising so prevalent in political marketing campaigns?

Could someone actually be trying to depress voter turnout? That’s plausible.
It does correspond with the increasing voter apathy of the past 40 years.

But I don’t know of any studies that show negative ads only turn off the other candidate’s voters. Does anyone have an answer to this?

Next to Romney’s lack of understanding on his target’s accepted beliefs, this Hurricane Sandy of negative ads was his second biggest mistake.

It is possible to target fear if your target is afraid of something. That’s classic problem – solution advertising.

But trying to make your target fear something they don’t fear? I think Mr. Adelson and all the rest of the money-soaked PACs discovered that is just plain ego. Very costly ego.

Lesson for Marketers:

Don’t project your own feelings into advertising your brand. Uncover your target’s accepted beliefs and start your campaign message right there. Position your brand for or against those beliefs. That is real marketing power.

Now we see the talking heads all expounding on how the electorate has changed and the Republican Party must get in touch with the new demographics.

What bull! The new demographics of our country have been known to both party’s brain trust for a long time. Sometimes one side just makes marketing mistakes. It’s easy to do.

What do you think? Leave a comment.


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