Brand Activator/ Analysis & Measurement

The Winner Of The 2012 Presidential Election Is ... The Most Activated Brand


by Ted Kohnen
Chief Marketing Officer
Stein IAS (Americas)

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With two national political conventions down, we have less than three months of electioneering to go until Super Tuesday. Watching the convention spectacle, it hit me that the road to the White House is much like a brand setting course to achieve market domination. There are value propositions communicated at great frequency, millions of dollars in media spending, and a mobilized base of supporters and influencers. 

Did I say millions? In fact, media spending will go well beyond millions. A recent study by Borrell Associates estimates that “election spending in 2012 will reach a stratospheric $9.8 billion” in all elections nationwide. But this year, more so than in any other election in history, the winner may not come down to the candidate with the largest war chest, but instead the one with the most activated brand.

So campaign managers have transformed into CMOs hell-bent on candidate brand activation. Assuming they take a page out of the real CMOs’ playbooks, they will realize that the true value of a commercial spot is not realized through the 30 seconds of airtime you buy. Even the best spot in and of itself will not activate a brand (or a campaign). But the right ad can be a catalyst for engagement, particularly in social media, ultimately leading to brand activation. To that end, many of the polls, analyses, and ratings of ad popularity tell only a partial story.

Not coincidentally, this year I wrote three “Brand Activation Index” (BAI) blog posts, one focused on how the right spots led to brand activation around the Super Bowl, and the others around the Olympics (Part I and Part 2). In these two studies, I measured what happened after the spots aired. By establishing a “pre-game” benchmark and then examining near real-time data across multiple platforms, I could see how effectively each brand leveraged its investment to drive activity on social media channels, positive social sentiment, search query volume, brand interest, etc.

Among the findings, we saw that a brand didn’t need to make Ad Age’s or USA Today’s “best ad list” to have an incredibly successful ad.

But now Election Day looms! I’m adapting the BAI methodology to identify which candidate activates his brand most effectively in the closing weeks of the election–and which one, therefore, has the strongest likelihood of winning. If you’re into this measuring thing as much as I am, then check out the posts linked to above and give me your thoughts on adapting the methodology to the presidential election. It’ll be interesting to see whether the data is clear enough to declare an early winner.

As a side note, for those who want to track weekly TV spending, The Washington Post has a great tool.

About Ted Kohnen

The authors of the Brand Activator blog are from Stein IAS, BMA Global Agency of the Year.