Posts by Campaign Solutions

Buying the World a Coke in the 21st Century

Google and original advertising “Mad Man” Harvey Gabor re-imagined the “Buy the World a Coke” campaign for the 21st century, and the result was simply breathtaking.

If you believe that advertising can still inspire, you need to watch this video.

The Lost Art of Changing the Environment

There was a time when voter registration played a key role in every campaign plan. Today, that isn’t the case — especially in Republican campaigns.

Anyone who has run a campaign in a district with up-side-down party registration knows the challenge all to well — sometimes their just aren’t enough people from your party to win an election. It’s not fun being the Republican candidate running in a Democrat majority district, or vice versa. So what’s the solution?

If you have attended a campaign school you have likely heard consultants preach about changing the environment. Don’t like the registration levels? Change them. Register more people from your party until you have the advantage.

This is where most campaigns throw their hands up — you’ll never have the time to register enough voters to swing an election. And campaigns are in fact throwing their hands up on a large scale. Republican campaigns have reached a point where even the most serious organizations aren’t even attempting to deploy voter registration programs. They half-heartedly place voter registration forms in their offices and in packets they give volunteers to take while going door-to-door but large scale organized efforts are seen as tactical dinosaurs. Many managers judge registration as time consuming, work intensive, and better suited to third party groups to carry out.

When was the last time you met the voter registration director for a Republican congressional campaign? You likely haven’t. In fact, many state parties don’t even have unpaid staff tasked to supervising voter registration efforts. To them, it’s a lost cause.

But Democrats and Democrat affiliated third party groups, have been hard at work changing the environment and are celebrating our apathy. Voter registration has become a staple of their campaign culture. At the start of 2012, the Democratic Party was the largest political party in America with 6 million voter registration advantage nationwide.

Following the 2008 cycle, the leading Democratic data management firm Catalist, produced a report on the campaign activity of progressive campaign organizations in 2008. Their research found that just their clients alone were responsible for generating over 7 million voter registration applications, 5.5 million of which actually made it onto the voter roles. Later analysis showed that 3.8 million of them showed up to vote in 2008. No Republican data has been released.

Imagine if in a marginal district, every two years, a campaign registered 1,000 new voters. That means for the average Congressional race you could add up to 4,000 new supporters before you reach a redistricting. For most districts in America, that increase far exceeds the margin of victory. Over time, changing your environment may not be such a lost cause even with token effort.

Today, campaigns have new way of changing their environment that completely alters voter registration equation. Using online voter registration tools backed by advertising, the traditional method of people with clipboards at malls and supermarkets can be replaced with high tech, highly targeted, highly efficient, digital programs. This reduces cost, raises efficiency, and allows registration efforts to occur passively as a full time function of any campaign.

There once was a time when Republican campaigns embraced the idea of voter registration and now other parties are using it against them with high levels of success. It’s time for Republican campaigns to get back to basics using technology to magnify their impact.

3 things to expect from Facebook’s inaugural marketing conference

Last week, Facebook announced its inaugural marketing conference, to be held in New York City on February 29th. Anticipation and speculation are high for this first-of-its-kind event, as marketers in all verticals anxiously await innovative new products that will compose a growing portion of next year’s ad budgets.

Even if you weren’t invited to the one-day gathering in New York City, you can watch online here, and continue to follow our blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for live updates on the developments. Additionally, while we’ll provide more details once they are available, here are three things you can expect that will emerge:

1. Timeline for Pages:

Since the introduction of Timeline at Facebook’s F8 conference in September, page managers have been eager to use this new platform to enhance their brands. According to Ad Age and other sources, Timeline for Pages will make its debut next week in New York. What does this mean for you?

Creative flexibility to tell your brand’s story.

Do you have Timeline? If you do, you know that it has wholly enriched the ability to tell your life story online. For politics, where a candidate’s story is everything, Timeline will turn Facebook into a destination where voters can find out not just what’s going on now with a politician, but the entire story that led them to run for office.

Need an example? Watch the Timeline video that Facebook released at F8, and replace the subject with a political candidate. You just watched a pretty decent biographical ad.

Also on the horizon: As Ad Age said, watch out for changes in the way that apps and tabs work. You might just see them integrated into Timeline pages the way that Open Graph apps are integrated into Timeline profiles.

2. Mobile advertising

In Facebook’s S4 statement filed with the SEC earlier last month in preparation for going public, a huge emphasis was placed on the importance of mobile advertising in Facebook’s business model. Next week, according to rumors, expect them to deliver on this potential by introducing a mobile ad platform that caters to their 425 million mobile users (not a typo).

What will this platform look like? There are few details available, but look for ads to exist within the newsfeed promoting existing social content. Also anticipate the importance of geo-location in targeting. Campaign Solutions has long innovated in the mobile advertising space, and we’re thrilled to apply this expertise to include Facebook’s capabilities. Imagine targeting only people at your rally with ads to like you on Facebook. It’s a brave new world.

3. Expect the unexpected

What’s a high-profile, invitation-only event without intrigue? Facebook’s culture of innovation continues to surprise us, and I expect at least one development that will dominate the tech press for at least a few days. What will it be? Comment below with your best conjecture.

Takeaway: Timeline and mobile advertising would be huge developments in the evolution of brand management on Facebook. One might even call them giant leaps forward (It’s a leap year, I’m here all week.) In any case, stay tuned to Campaign Solutions in the next week for updates on these developments and what they mean for political brand managers.

Sharing Success

Here at Campaign Solutions, we’re proud of the work we do, but more than that, we’re grateful. We know we’re lucky to have the opportunity to work with great clients, and we’re routinely humbled to share in their successes.

At the Fourth Annual Reed Awards, our team took home two awards — Best Online Targeting and Best Use of Display Advertising — for our work with Michele Bachmann’s Ames Straw Poll victory. The awards were presented by Campaigns & Elections and selected by a bi-partisan panel of the nation’s leading political professionals. We congratulate our advertising guru Eric Frenchman and the entire ad team, and look forward to the next tricks they have up their sleeves! We were also selected as finalists in the only other two categories in which we competed — Best Use of New Technology and Best Use of Social Networking Technology — for a Twitter campaign we designed with another client, Ending Spending. To review a complete list of winners from this years’ event or to learn more about the awards, please visit the Campaign & Elections’ website.

We had another exciting moment this week when ClickZ, an interactive marketing news publication, published an analysis of presidential ad spending in 2011 that cites our work with Michele Bachmann.

Wondering what online advertising could do for your campaign, organization, or initiative? Contact us today and let’s talk about the successes we could share.

10 Pointers for Raising Money Online

By Becki Donatelli and Megg Whelan
Cross-posted from

Write a plan and stick to it!
Successful online fundraising takes careful thought and a realistic strategy. Those who raise the most money online have an aggressive plan that is carefully followed.

It should be easy to make a donation
A donation link should be prominently listed on every page so a person never has to search for where to complete a donation. Once a donor is on the donation page, the transaction should be one click from beginning to end. And remember to ALWAYS make sure the donation page works!

Always work on building your list
The email list you build internally will be the most successful fundraising email list you will ever use! Everyone on your staff should be working together to build your email list together. Your work is never done. Collect emails at every event, use the candidate/chairman, circulate petitions, etc.

Don’t burn out or ignore your list
The bulk of online funds will come through email fundraising. That is why it is critical to come up with a realistic schedule of communicating with your supporters. Email your list with a mix of special fundraising and non-fundraising appeals a few times per month. As you get closer to Election Day, the frequency increases.

Break through the clutter
With so much incoming email and online advertising, focus on coming up with creative subject lines that grab attention and ideas that can spread virally.

Use premiums as incentives
Donors love to get “exclusive” merchandise as a premium for a donation. Bumper stickers, lapel pins, autographed books, t-shirts and mugs will appeal to a wide variety of donors. Don’t be afraid to ask for a higher gift to receive a premium.

Utilize search engine advertising
This is a low-cost way to prospect and collect email addresses and donations for your organization. This type of prospecting virtually sustains itself and more often than not, turns a large profit.

Use social media
Use Facebook and Twitter to engage your supporters and convert them in to donors. You can utilize Facebook polls or petition functions to collect email addresses from supporters and email them with fundraising appeals. It is also important to include an ask for donations when you are running a special fundraising campaign around fundraising filing deadlines.

Use the Internet to lift results of your other fundraising efforts
Send email invitations and provide registration links for all events. Send lead or chase emails for all direct mail packages and telemarketing phone calls.

Finally, whatever amount you ask for, you will get
If you only ask for $5, donors will give you exactly $5. The average online donation is around $60. So when making an ask for an online donation, be specific and ask for amounts like $25, $50, $100, up to the maximum legal amount.

Google strikes while SOPA and PIPA are hot

Been to Google today? Or Facebook? Twitter? Wikipedia? The likelihood is if you have spent any time at all online, you are aware of the anti-piracy legislation facing Congress and the accompanying online protest. With such high-profile websites taking a stand, this online protest seems to be covered today on traditional media just as much as the Occupy protests have been over the past few months.

Numerous websites are protesting two bills facing Congress: SOPA in the House and PIPA in the Senate. While some websites went fully dark (Wikipedia, Buddy Roemer’s campaign site, among others) to demonstrate what the Internet could become if these bills pass in Congress, Facebook and Twitter are full of discussions covering this topic.

Google may have been the smartest site of all though with an online petition linked from their homepage along with a black box commonly seen on censored material on TV – an iconic symbol to make clear the company’s view on the anti-piracy legislation.

With an estimated 1 billion unique visitors per month, Google did exactly what any political campaign or group should do: they capitalized on a hot news issue and are capturing information from all petition signors. After the information is gathered, the subsequent interactions with the site are sometimes worth even more than the initial sign-up. For example, as long as an individual is on Google’s website, she likely will click around, possibly search the news on these bills, check Gmail and further build on her direct interaction with the search engine. This helps Google know the users’ habits to retarget ads — and it snowballs from there. Google does include a “how we use your information” blurb on the page so it is (mostly) clear where one’s information will go from the petition.

It’s worth nothing from a tech perspective that Wikipedia has a contact Congress tool on their English site (the foreign language sites appear to be operating normally with an informational blurb across the top of the page). They should have bug tested the tool a bit more though: after entering a Virginia zip code, the site displayed Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC’s representative) along with Virginia’s Senators.

No one argues online piracy is a huge issue, particularly in the music and movie industries, and we are all in uncharted territory in regulating the Internet. The protests, petitions and discussion make one thing very clear though: there’s a very vocal online movement dissatisfied with PIPA and SOPA today.

In a critical election year, it will be interesting to watch the political ramifications of this online protest and public reaction. President Obama has stated he will not support the bills and there have been a number of defections already from House and Senate supporters on both sides of the aisle. Others are holding firm to their support. Will we end up seeing modified legislation with more bipartisan support? We don’t know.

Regardless of the politics, it’s an interesting situation to observe from a technological lens. It would be intriguing to know the numbers of how many signed Google’s petition, not to mention how many came from Facebook and Twitter discussions and track the resulting impact. Call it wishful thinking, but the power of the Internet is only growing stronger by the day. In summation: well done, Google.

For more information on SOPA and PIPA, check out Politico’s article.

Full disclosure: We acknowledge that we work with clients on both sides of this issue. We’re not writing today to take a stand on the issue – that’s just not our job – but to examine what’s obviously a hot topic in technological and political worlds today, and to look at the digital responses to it.

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man

Well, unlike Johnny Cash, we haven’t been everywhere, but we have been to all 99 counties in Iowa which we think is pretty great!

In the 3 weeks leading up to the Iowa caucuses, a few members of the Campaign Solutions team packed up and headed out to Iowa to work with Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign to project images, video and stories of the 99 country tour online. It was an honor and a privilege to work along side a true consistent conservative candidate, an amazing Iowa and National team, and to spend time getting to know so many Iowans along the way. It was an unbelievable journey, filled with many laughs, numerous memories and 20 pizza ranches, but sometimes a story is best told by a photo- or in this case a video. Watch this video recap of the adventures along Michele Bachmann’s 99 county tour.

Two Rising Stars on Our Team

Congratulations to Jackie Huelbig and Jen Stolp from the Campaign Solutions & Connell Donatelli team! These two political pros were just announced as Rising Stars by Campaign & Elections Magazine, and will be honored later this month amongst their colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Jackie, a Senior Director at Connell Donatelli, is being honored for her innovative targeting and online advertising work on behalf of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s historic, write-in victory. Jackie’s resume reads like a “who’s who” of high-profile statewide and national center-right campaigns including McCain-Palin 2008, California’s Prop. 8, California’s Prop. 19, Maine’s Yes on 1, The Republican National Committee, and scores of other major candidate and public affairs initiatives. Oh, and did I mention she’s only 27?

At 29, Jen is already a nationally recognized online fundraiser. She was a key player on the McCain-Palin online fundraising team that raised a record $100,000,000 online. Last cycle, Jen raised nearly $3 million for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s successful reelection campaign and political action committee in only three months – more than any other Congressional campaign in the country! She also led the online fundraising efforts for Carly Fiorina’s U.S. Senate campaign in California, raising nearly $5 million online – over forty percent of the campaign’s overall fundraising haul.

So the streak of Rising Stars continues at the Campaign Solutions/Connell Donatelli family. Jackie and Jen join their colleagues Ryan Waite and me, along with two other Campaign Solutions alumni, bringing our total to 6 Rising Star awards in 6 years.

What’s a Message?

Campaigns are always talking about their messages.

They’re refining them, testing them, communicating them. But politically speaking, what is a message? Or more importantly — what makes an effective message? Surprisingly, there’s no one definition of what a political message is although every consultant will tell you can’t survive without one.

First and foremost, campaign messages mustn’t be confused with campaign slogans or taglines. Your message defines your core argument and drives persuasion while a slogan just neatly encapsulates it in a more memorable fashion. It is not the message. A message can be more than one sentence, but shouldn’t be more than two to three.

I’ll offer this as my definition of a political message:

A message is a persuasive body of information that communicates a clear comparison or contrast, compelling an audience to support your campaign or take action on your behalf. Effective messages are emotional, targeted, values-based and contrasting.

How did I come to this? My definition has four key parts — effective messages are emotional, values-based, targeted, and contrasting. Let’s look at each part.

“The emotional quotient is key to helping ideas propagate and survive” says idea expert Chip Heath. That’s the most empirical explanation you’ll ever find. Everyone is fighting for voters attention. Voters will listen to and repeat only the messages they share an emotional connection with. People often forget the specifics of what you say but, they remember how you make them feel.

Many campaign make a critical mistake — attempting to communicate their message by listing ideas, and not by sharing values that create common ground. A laundry list of issues and plans is not a message. A message is rooted in universal truths and ideas that people can use as tools to understand and relate to you. Values transcend confusion created by insufficient knowledge of issues, to evaluate plans or understand jargon. Value statements assign importance without explaining facts.

Targeting has dual meaning. First, every message needs an audience. Know who you’re trying to persuade, instead of trying (in vain) to be everything to everyone. The second meaning is emphasis. Include just what is needed and omit the rest. For example, in just forty-five words, the founding fathers were able to articulate the bedrock principles of democracy in the First Amendment. It doesn’t take a whole jumble of words and flowery language to create something that’s effective. Sometimes the most important decision you’ll make is what you chose to leave out.

The principle job of every campaign is to define a clear choice. For a campaign to be successful it’s message must demonstrate its distinctiveness from competitors or there’s no reason to select it over others. To achieve this, your message must first actually be different from your opponent’s; and second demonstrate the difference clearly, and memorably. Decide ahead of time on what ideas you want your voters to choose.

Whenever examining effective messages, I continuously revisit the challenge of clarity. A message that offers too many choices, too many contrasts, is just as ineffectual as one that offers no choice at all. Studies have proven that when people are over exposed to choices, paralysis prevails and choice demotivates. So be selective and win people on the terms most favorable to your campaign.

Does your campaign have a message or is it sneaking by with only a slogan? Can you define your message in 2-3 short sentences and know who it’s targeting? Is it values-based or just laundry-listing? Does it offer a clear, compelling, emotional choice?

If not, you should be asking yourself, “What is my message?”

5 Online Fundraising Lessons of 2010

So, you want to raise big bucks online for your candidates and causes this cycle?

Step 1: Go back and learn the lessons from last cycle.

Step 2: Read this Campaigns & Elections article from two of the best in the business – our own Jen Stolp and Eric Frenchman.

Find out the 5 lessons you need to learn before jumping into the world of political online fundraising.