Villing & Company

Split Vote

What have we learned from this historic presidential election? Simply this. When it comes to media effectiveness, there’s a place for young and old alike.

As I write this, it is just after 6:30 the morning after the presidential election. The results are in. And, in my opinion, they are conclusive and compelling.

I am not, of course, referring to the actual results of the presidential vote. I am talking about the impact of media on this election. I am struck by the something old, something new, something borrowed outcome. (OK, I can’t think of something blue to extend the analogy unless it would be the red states that turned blue.)

Something old is the relatively ancient medium of television. Once the backbone of brand-building advertising, how often have we heard lately that the 30-second TV spot is dead? Yet, all the candidates continue to spend the majority of their advertising dollars on this medium. Regardless of the wisdom or ethics of the hardball message strategies, the use of TV in the media master plan obviously produces results.

Something new is the relatively young medium of the Internet and its cousins in e-mail and mobile messaging. I was struck when I saw an Obama banner ad on a rather obscure web site late Election Day Eve encouraging me to vote. In the last four years especially, the Internet has clearly come of age as a powerful tool for not only communicating strategic messages, but also for raising money in unprecedented ways.

To be sure, campaign posters have been part of the political media mix for almost as long as there have been elections in this country. But throughout this election I had the sense we were borrowing from some of the golden ages of design and creativity in the middle of last century in terms of posters and related media. Gone were the stereotypical posters of Joe the Politician smiling alongside the obligatory symbol of an elephant or donkey that were the staple of recent campaigns. Instead, we saw more than a few examples of smart graphics integrated with strategically smart copy.

In previous entries in this space, I have been critical about the excessive extravagance of political advertising and media overkill. My friends, I am not waffling on that position. However, I believe the people have spoken and there is definitely a place for young and old alike in the world of advertising media effectiveness.

Filed Under: media

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