Jeanine Karp|Nov 6, 2012

The most expensive presidential race in American history has provided a real boost to the marketing industry. Collectively, the candidates, parties and independent groups have spent more than $1 billion on TV advertising since April according to data compiled by media trackers and provided to the Associated Press.

Even if you don’t reside in a battleground state targeted with most of the TV buys, you were no doubt exposed to the $78 million worth of online and social media activities executed by the Romney and Obama campaigns.

With both the airways and the blogosphere dominated by presidential campaign chatter, rather than try to compete for attention with standard consumer brand awareness campaigns, savvy marketers feed our country’s patriotic binge with creative election-centered promotions and content.

Most effective among them: JetBlue’s election protection sweepstakes, where customers logged their presidential picks for a chance to win a flight out of the country if they cast a vote for the loser; and a redux of 7-Eleven’s Seven-Election Presidential Coffee Cup Poll, which, in addition to helping increase coffee sales, has predicted the winner four years in a row.

Politics even became a dominant factor in market research. In rbb’s recent study of companies that make emotional connections with customers a priority – an elite group we’ve dubbed “Breakout Brands” – survey respondents’ decisions to vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney correlated to brand preference. (Take a look at the infographic for yourself.) Romney supporters showed a stronger affinity for brands such as Wal-Mart, Caterpillar, and McDonald’s, while Obama supporters identify more with brands like Google, Whole Foods Market, and Starbucks.

So what will replace the marketing blitz of the 2012 political season? Will the country be too hungover from the excessive doses of presidential campaign messages for new consumer marketing initiatives to resonate? Or will the American customer sober up just in time for holiday shopping season?


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