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TODD SMITH: Brands are getting presidential during national election cycle

Brands are getting into the presidential race, too, capitalizing on the political discourse – or lack thereof – with messaging aimed squarely at an engaged electorate.

While brands don’t want to be associated with polarizing topics like immigration, the economy or religion, they are targeting ads that speak to the current mood of the country.

A survey by the Global Strategy Group found that corporations that were seen as politically involved or attuned were viewed favorably – no matter which side of the aisle they were on.

Here’s a look at five brands channeling its inner president:
1. Hotels.com
Hotels.com’s spokesman, Captain Obvious, is “running” for president – literally. The ads feature Obvious literally running through every state on the campaign trail. In each one, you find the hotel he stayed in and can search for other places to stay if you decide to visit. He’s also tweeting during the presidential debates. CP+B executive creative director Matt Talbot, who worked on the campaign, said the brand knew it would be entering a crowded space, so it decided to go the comedic route. So if Obvious tweets about immigration, he might say, for example, that “immigrants are people who originated from elsewhere.” That ensures he – and the brand – doesn’t get ensnared in hot-button topics.
2. Netflix
If Captain Obvious is funny, Netflix has made Frank Underwood, the main character of “House of Cards,” a very serious candidate. The brand set up faux campaign headquarters in Greenville, S.C., where a Republican debate happened. It includes an oval office desk and literature on why people should vote Underwood in November. (Gaffney, S.C., is Underwood’s hometown in the show.) At FU16.com, clips and teasers from the show’s new season, set to drop March 4, abound, as well as an explanation of Underwood’s platform.
3. Budweiser
Premiering during the Super Bowl, Budweiser’s “Bud Light Party” stars Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen and is part of a campaign that the brand’s agency, Wieden+Kennedy, says will run through election year. The idea is that despite all the things people disagree on, they agree on beer. The campaign website features shareable memes and merchandise, and there will be events throughout the country this year. Because Bud is such an American brand, the ad makes sense in the political climate.
4. JetBlue
JetBlue is a fan of stunt-based advertising, and it shows in this latest gag, when it asked 150 unsuspecting passengers on a plane to “reach across the aisle” for a chance to win airfare to a cool destination. The catch was, they had to all agree on one destination before their six-hour flight ended.
Agency Droga5 is working on the Hillary Clinton campaign, but also on behalf of Zoe, a 1-year-old girl who is hoping to become president – in 2064. The idea is that Zoe can take advantage of all the opportunities the YMCA affords to kids if they one day want to be president, or maybe just something else. Zoe for President is “not political and does not promote a political agenda,” said Kevin Washington, CEO and president of YMCA USA. But, during an election year, he said, “the public is especially engaged with issues related to children, families and communities that have always been a focus of the Y. We are hoping to capitalize on this.”

Mobile habits are changing news consumption

Media executives from TV, newspapers, digital and magazines are optimistic about the future of news, and engaging a digital generation in greater ways on mobile platforms. Recently, a Mobile World Congress, discussed the changing media landscape. Here’s how the mobile audience is transforming newsgathering:

1. New partnerships are possible.
The mobile era allows legacy publications to collaborate with new media properties and tech companies in ways they couldn’t a few years ago, such as Vanity Fair on Snapchat, the first publication to do a pop-up channel.

2. Media has been democratized.
While some journalists bemoan the idea of casual observers equipped with cameras scooping them – or replacing them – citizen journalists and other partners can potentially help news organizations cover everything that’s happening at any given time – be their eyes and ears in areas of the world they can’t cover.

3. Advertising needs to catch up.
The advertising industry hasn’t caught up yet with mobile news consumers Because of that, it’s hard for news to move entirely to mobile with a revenue model in place first. While 70 percent of AOL’s viewers are now mobile-first, that doesn’t mean the other 30 percent doesn’t exist – nor does it mean the 70 percent who are mobile-first aren’t consuming content on a desktop.

4. More technology requires more technology investment.
News has gone from broadcasting to one-to-one interactions. While that creates opportunities, it also creates challenges on the backend that aren’t visible to consumers who simply want their video feed to work. It’s based on what people want to watch and from which device they are watching it.

5. Video will be more vertical – and virtual.
How users consume video means publishers and advertisers need to change how they create it. While vertical video is becoming more popular thanks to platforms like Snapchat, virtual reality is also on the forefront. Andrew Hawken, head of digital media at Sky News, said his team has already begun experimenting with virtual reality storytelling and plans to do more of it.

Golden Mic | Peyton Manning redefined NFL QB

After winning the Super Bowl, Peyton manning put an exclamation point on an 18-year-career where the cerebral, hyper-prepared quarterback redefined the position, and will go down as one of the best QBs in the history of the game.

After five MVP trophies, two Super Bowl championships, and countless records, the singular defining moment of the Peyton Manning brand could very well be his emotional retirement speech, perhaps the best ever. The Spin Cycle didn’t expect anything less! It was typical Manning. He spent more time talking about and thanking the people who made it possible during his career with The University of Tennessee, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. He showed his dry humor and wit. He showed his emotion. He showed how much he loves football and his former teammates, coaches and executives. It was everything we have come to love and appreciate about Manning.

There was the story about his daughter a week before the Super Bowl.

“Daddy, is this the last game ever?” Manning said, “and that’s just when I shook my head in amazement because I was thinking, ‘(ESPN) reporters (Chris) Mort (Mortenson) and Adam Schefter had gotten to my 5-year-old daughter to cultivate a new source.'” Classic stories from a sports classic! For taking the NFL brand to new heights of awareness and excitement, Peyton Manning takes the Golden Mic as he sails off into the sunset. But, as he said in his speech, he is preparing for his next, well-prepared chapter. The Spin Cycle can’t wait to hear his next audible!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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One comment

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