2016 Election: All About the Message

Mike HardmanMarketingLeave a Comment

When I last posted, I talked about the advertising lessons then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton offered to us. We looked at their strategies through the AIDA lens. Now that we have a winner, we can review the campaigns even further.

Donald Trump crafted the winning message and, as Paul Ryan noted, heard something that nobody else heard. He acted on it by crafting a message that answered the voters’ pain point: people had trusted government to help them, and they felt betrayed. He connected emotionally by adopting the almost inarguable Make America Great Again slogan. He positioned his campaign on this promise and maintained consistent in his message. Voters interviewed after the election reinforced his message. They believed he’d bring both pride and prosperity to all working Americans.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, made an institutional promise in we are Stronger Together. Her supporters (e.g., President and Mrs. Obama, VP Biden) focused on Trump’s negatives instead of her positives. They all talked about a continuation of the Obama legacy, but what they didn’t understand was that apparently the majority of Americans felt that legacy wasn’t working. They didn’t believe his policies helped them. These voters saw that things would stay the same under Clinton, so they decided to take a chance.

Now let’s review in terms of AIDA. To recap, the AIDA model posits that first we must create brand Awareness. Then we generate Interest in our product’s benefits. Next we focus on Desire and emotionally connect with our audience. Finally, we move the buyer to Action.

Trump’s message created the desire while Clinton’s did not.

In terms of delivery, Trump focused on integrated media. He advertised in key states, unleashed the power of social media, and held events where believers showed up in inordinate numbers to show their support for his campaign.

Clinton, on the other hand, invested heavily in paid media, in get-out-to-vote canvassing, and held a moderate number of events.

His media plan took into account the emotional state of the voters who were truly for him. And it lead to the Action he desired.

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