eView: Presidential Candidates Missed Olympic Advertising Opportunity
At a time when our two presidential candidates dominate the national stage with rhetoric and negative ads, there is much our country could learn from the Olympic Games.
The Olympics is one of those rare events that has the ability to bring our nation together in support of one common goal. This year it came at a time when the candidates could have used that unity to connect with the American public.
Despite the McCain and Obama camps spending $6 million and $5 million, respectively, on TV ads during the Olympics, however, neither used Olympic patriotism as a platform to connect with the millions of Americans who watched the games. And in a year when both the Olympics and the election are migrating online, nowhere were the candidates' absences more obvious than on the Internet.
Online and television advertisements from Olympic sponsors congratulated medal winners and new world record holders, but messages from each of the candidates in both mediums lacked relevancy to the Olympic Games.
While McCain and Obama both ran political ads on TV during commercial breaks, neither party played on the country's patriotic fervor, missing out on huge opportunities to become the candidate who is not only proud of American accomplishments, but also proud to be an American.
Furthermore, online searches for Olympic-related terms such as "Team USA" and "Phelps" spiked during these times, demonstrating the increase in online interaction during and after the televised competitions. This would have been an excellent opportunity for the campaigns to reiterate a patriotic message to captivated Americans going online and to connect with potential voters in a way that political ads and personal attacks cannot. But neither campaign took advantage of this opportunity to use display advertising opportunities on key Web sites that were visited, such as www.nbcolympics.com.
According to a report from The Nielsen Co., Obama had an online presence five times larger in July than June, and McCain's sponsored search link advertising doubled from June to July.
Despite a large number of paid online ads from both candidates as well as unique online visitors to their sites leading up to the Olympics, their failure to fully leverage the emotion of the Olympics into voter approval left these spend levels underused.
By showing Americans that they recognize the accomplishments of Team USA, they would've shown the nation a side of themselves that goes beyond politics. They're clearly aware of the power and benefits of the Internet, but neither campaign was able to recognize and then capitalize on an opportunity to resonate with their country during a well-timed, country-uniting event like the Olympics.
Janel Landis is senior director of search development and strategy at SendTec, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based multichannel, integrated marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing, direct response television and lead generation. Reach Janel at firstname.lastname@example.org.