Effective Promotional Product Use In Republican Campaigns – Part 1


“No one will vote for you because you gave them a pen, an emery board or a refrigerator magnet.”

The idea that someone would vote for you based only on the fact that you gave them something with your Republican campaign logo on it is absolutely retarded. However, promotional products canbe used effectively in a Republican Campaign when they:

1) Have a defined purpose

2) Are Issue Oriented

3) Solve a Problem

This article will focus on defined purpose. Issue Oriented and Solve A Problem will be covered in parts 2 and 3. It’s my hope that this series will help you, “Think it through” so that the promotional product expenditures you do make are well though out and serve to give you a better Return On Investment (ROI). The best way to define “Defined Purpose” is to give you examples.

Information Dispersal:

Lets say you have a great website with all your white papers, your stand on all the issues, a campaign photo gallery, a support/volunteer sign up form and your contact information. Now, how to cost effectively get that web address into the hands of voters?

First of all, it’s reasonable to want even Democrats, Independents and undecideds to have that information. So parades, festivals and sporting events are a great place to hand out an inexpensive pen, pencil, emery board or a refrigerator magnet.

These items will remain with the recipient LONG after a lapel sticker that so many campaigns seem to be fond of. Yes, lapel stickers are really, really cheap. But cheap doesn’t automatically mean EFFECTIVE. Stickers get tossed rather quickly. On the other hand, a pen, pencil or magnet all have a perceived value that gives them a better chance of making it into the home, be looked at and acted upon, ie; they check out your site.

Thank Proven Supporters & Volunteers:

A volunteer who has donated 40 hours of their time on your Republican campaign and is expecting nothing, will be pleased and excited about a high perceived value-low cost gift such as a mug, bandanna or water bottle or campaign hat or visor or lapel pin.

Mind you, you are giving these items to volunteers or proven supporters ie: they gave you a check, put a bumper sticker on their car, a lawn sign in their yard or otherwise have proven you’re their candidate.

The degree to which this tactic will succeed when directed to proven supports and volunteers is exactly the same degree this tactic will fail if you go giving this stuff away to every Tom, Dick and Jane you meet. It’s worth saying again, if someone isn’t going to vote for you, giving them a mug won’t change their mind. So please, don’t waste promotional marketing dollars on people that won’t yield you a positive (ROI).

Plays a Supportive Role In the Campaign

A good example this is when you purchase safety flashers for going door to door at dusk for you and your volunteers. And no, handing them out to kids for Trick or Treat is not a great idea, because NO ONE is going to vote for you because you gave their kid a safety flasher. (They can work as part of an “Issue Oriented” tactic that will be covered in detail in part 2 of this series.) Other products that can play a supportive marketing purpose in your campaign include imprinted lanyards, pens, pencils, water bottles, highlighters, clipboards.

Remember however, these items are primarily for campaign staff and volunteers. Staff and supporters may give some of these items, such as pens and pencils, to identified/proven supporters as they meet these people. But by and large the other items are for volunteer/staff use. It’s part of the branding of the campaign. And while small tokens of your appreciation, items such as lanyards and water bottles, visors or caps help promote your campaign while making life a bit easier for your staff and volunteers.

Other Items And Their Role

Items such as bumper stickers, lapel stickers are campaign staples. However, only give bumper stickers to those who will put them on their bumper. Lapel stickers are great for rallys and campaign events as they serve to create a cohesiveness among sticker wearers. However, as far as parades go, if there aren’t any TV cameras around, save your stickers. You can easily go through a couple hundred dollars or more worth of stickers that will end up on the ground and in the trash can soon after the parade is over or you are out of sight at a festival.

Candy? Save your money. Besides, most campaigns are really doing little more than advertising the brand name of the candy being thrown. Again, no one is going to vote for you because you threw candy out at a parade. So even imprinted candy is a bad idea … your name ends up in the trash or all over the street as trash. Nice image.

Balloons? Blapel stckeralloons are an inexpensive item. However, helium is not. And lugging tanks to a fair or festival site, blowing up and tying balloons is a hassle. Again, unless you’re expecting TV cameras … you might want to think twice about balloons and opt instead for waterless tattoos or your campaign pencils. Balloons are a nice effect for meet and greets, rallys and fundraisers … especially if TV will be present.

By and large, promotional products can play a powerful role in your campaign… if you think it through. Those who maintain that promotional products are a waste of money are usually the ones who can’t develop creative ideas for the effective use of the products.

Part two of this series will address ways promotional products can effectively play an issue-oriented role in your campaign.

Michael Merrick Crooks is a 23-year advertising veteran, copywriter and founder of Crooks Advertising Alliance. His firm, based near Lansing, Michigan (USA) is a creative strike-force that provides advertising, creative problem-solving and promotional marketing services to a diverse client base including Republican political candidates. His fresh thinking is the result of maintaining the insight of a 7 year old. Always questioning… asking “why?” From logo development and brochure writing, design and production to targeted, promotional concepts, Crooks has an uncanny ability to look at the same thing everyone else does and see something different. For more information visit http://www.crooksadvertising.com or http://www.waterlesstattoos.com