Ahh, politics. The topic that everybody loves to hate. Regardless of which side of the aisle you’re on, we can all agree on one thing: from September until Election Day, it is impossible to escape seeing some variety of political advertising on a near hourly basis. Political campaigns tend to spend and spend and spend. From flyers and t-shirts by the millions to TV, radio, and social media, the political advertising machine is near unavoidable. 

For marketing companies, these spending habits are a fantastic way to increase their sales and grow their client list. However, if you’re the type that can’t stand to see political advertising at all, buckle up – 2020 is geared up to be more of the same. Campaigns have taken a heavy hold of both promotional products and social media, and the populace is more willing than ever to proudly proclaim where their support lies. Because of this, marketing companies will continue to see new opportunities to offer their services and potentially even make themselves integral parts of some campaigns, of course, all while trying to remain neutral. 


Promotional Products 

With people more willing to outwardly display their support for a particular candidate, campaigns have begun to move away from the more traditional TV and radio advertisements in favor of mediums that offer more engagement. Couple this with the growing rift between the ideals of the two major parties, and we get to see Newton’s Third Law in action but with promotions instead. Especially in terms of apparel, any statement that is perceived as “funny” or “wrong” by the opposing side is undoubtedly going to receive a response in the form of a t-shirt.  

This not only provides an avenue of repeat merch sales for the campaign but repeat orders for their distributors as well. 

This provides a unique opportunity for promotional product distributors to capture repeat business on a consistent basis. If they’re prudent (and able) to grab multiple clients on both sides of the spectrum, they can ride the waves for at least two months of solid sales. With over 30% of distributors retaining 6 or more political sector clients, most companies are taking great advantage of this theory. In addition, 44% of distributors reported an increase in promo sales to campaigns and candidates in 2016.  

Two of the most popular campaigns from both the 2016 and 2020 elections (Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) have differentiated themselves from their competition by their mastery of the promotional products field. As noted by the Advertising Specialty Institute’s analysis of the 2016 campaigns, the Trump campaign spent $3.3 million on promotional products. The Sanders campaign, on the other hand, spent a whopping $7.5 million. Both campaigns spent more than double their nearest competition. These two campaigns mastered their merchandising game and pumped out item after item to continue their steady stream of sales. These are two campaigns that were able to generate unprecedented support within their bases, and when looking at their promotional spending, it’s hard not to attribute that success partly to their use of promotional products.   


Social Media 

Social Media is another medium that will continue to see rapid growth along with promotional products. Even with some of the most popular outlets like Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, and Twitch prohibiting political advertising, 2020’s projected spending is expected to near $3 billion, up from $1.4 billion from 2016 (Projections from Borrell Associated and The Wall Street Journal). With recent campaigns being as active as they are on social media, these numbers will only grow as time goes on. 


Leave the Politics to Politicians

At the end of the day, the politics of it all is best handled by the politicians. The opportunities created by political campaigns should be seized wherever possible but without bias. Any promotional product distributor, print broker, or digital marketing company should be ready, willing, and able to take on any political business that may come their way. Even if the economy is down, political spending is here to stay. 

About the Author

Clay Ridings

Clay is a Marketing Assistant, eager to learn everything he can about the industry. When he isn’t working, he enjoys working on and riding his motorcycle or playing a relaxing round of terrible golf.

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