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Brand Biden & Brand Trump: the US election campaigns viewed by marketers

2020 US Presidential Election Campaign has been inevitably affected by a trend that the global pandemic brought to our lives: online activities. Indeed, social platforms played a major role in this political race.

Not surprisingly, Facebook led the way – only after having improved transparency on the platform in the face of the scandal it was involved during 2016 election.

$6.1 million is how much Joe Biden’s page spent on Facebook ads only between Oct. 25th and Oct 31st, while his rival limited the amount to $2.9 million. Facebook platform was mainly used to engage an older audience(45-64 age range), which is more likely to vote.

However, candidates’ effort can be measure beyond the amount of money spent in advertising: Biden’s campaign included converting soldiers who would normally be knocking on doors into digital organizers, making strong use of influencers, and even debuting the Biden-Harris campaign in Animal Crossing, a video game that became wildly popular at the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, the newly elected US President had one imperative during the campaign: being omni-present.

The influencers who collaborate to Biden’s campaign included celebrities – such as Ariana Grande, Dwayne the Rock Johnson – macro-influencers with hundred million followers, but also micro and nano-influencers addressing a specific community. It is interesting to point out how also the format of the interviews with influencers was designed to increase Biden’s credibility in the eyes of the audience: he was always portrayed at home in a casual environment with the influencer asking him questions and engaging in conversations about any given topic.

Focusing on Donald Trump, instead, it is important to underline that social media’s algorithms worked in his favor, as they normally give preference to sensational posts that evoke a lot of emotions, and a lot of his content matches the description. He also did not need to develop a new brand influencer strategy, as he is a macro-influencer himself and already had a pool of notable personalities amplifying his message.

Regarding the content of the ads, Beth Fossen, marketing professor at Indiana University, specialized in political marketing, pointed out how different the two opponents portrayed themselves. On one hand, Trump used a lot of attacks in his ads, enhancing the idea of boldness, but also of rudeness, that has always characterized the Trump Brand. However, the former US President’s on-line strategy was made at the expenses of the usual attempt of portraying himself as the protector of traditional values, an image depicted in deep in TV ads instead.

Biden’s strategy, instead, was focused onconsistency.Indeed, along all touchpoints, the newly elected US President focused on getting voters to the polls - an essential condition for his victory – and on positioning himself as auniter,delivering messages of love and positivity.

Regardless the larger economic and strategic effort, Brand Biden is perceptually non-descript, as a study from Ipsos pointed out. The French market research company took the same measurement tools it normally uses to assess the performance of commercial brands, including attitudinal equity, spontaneous associations with candidates, and drivers of preferences. Brand Trump, on the other hand, is the center of intensity: whether positive or negative, every respondent to the Ipsos study had a clear opinion regarding him.

Such results lead to a risky, yet plausible conclusion: Biden’s supporters may have been moved by negative avoidance, rather than strong and motivated preference.

Written by: Maddalena Allegri

Edited by: Nicola Curci






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