Branding Blog

Is advertising a fiscally responsible tool for politicians or you?

Written by Dale Berkebile | Tue, Nov 06, 2012

I very often talk people out of advertising. Usually because it is an expensive medium for only the skilled few.

The point is most small businesses can't afford an ongoing ad- month over month over month for years. This is what I used to tell people was the answer to getting advertising right. Over the last year I have been changing my opinion. Why the change? Well it might be because of the 2012 election year. Go out and vote by the way.

The political campaigns have been going on so long and so aggressively that even people working in the political industry are sick of seeing the ads. This last quarter it is estimated that advertising spend hit $2.7 billion dollars. That's a serious ad campaign so I am wondering what the total ad spend was. Was it successful, I'm not thinking so. Of course it was not a positive campaign it was very negative. Maybe this is part of why it hasn't worked so well. See the ads below as an example.


Why is this such a problem in my eyes? Well for one thing the game is so close as of this morning that it is truly going to be a toss up over who wins. So my next issue is the amount of spending. Is this really fiscally responsible when the country is in debt some 16 trillion dollars? The ad spend could have dropped this down to $15 trillion. I know, what's 3 to 5 billion when you talking trillions right? Well, no… it could make a big difference in the interest paid back over time. Or does the government not have to pay interest… like it's citizens? Can they just start printing more and watering down the dollar even more? Hmmm?

Being the leaders of the free world it makes me wonder… is this really proving you know how to run a struggling government, by spending us into even more debt to prove you are better than the other candidate? I do not think so.

Yes, I know this spending was not done by the government, but think if these guys raised this kind of money to get the US out of debt. To me that would be someone with integrity and someone I would want to follow. Now unless there is a landslide tonight I think 98% of advertising is a bust. There are better forms of marketing and business development. So if you are thinking about doing advertising consider how well it worked for politicians this year.

Also think about this. There has been much rumblings about facebook comments on the politicians. Many people posting their views and many people sharing images and content bashing the other party or candidate. This certainly isn't "traditional paid advertising" but it is the "people's voice" and an attempt at DIY advertising. Has one comment or photo on facebook made you change your mind about who you were going to vote for? It is very unlikely. I'd bet it was under 1% of people found this kind of ranting and promotion something that got people to take action. Instead of getting you to change your mind on politics, it may have made you question who you are friends with.

So where do you stand on advertising:

  • Have you done advertising?
  • Have you made a provable return directly tied to an ad campaign?
  • What are your thoughts about the political ads?
  • Did any of them sway you in a new direction and get you to think differently?