Elections in the United States are given more coverage than just about any other event on the planet. As they are unique in terms of their scope and often complexity, the ability to innovate has long been a requisite for successful election campaigns. As the last few cycles have shown, the way candidates have embraced new media, particularly mobile marketing, has been a huge factor in their chances of success.
Going back to 2004, the presidential campaign of Howard Dean made the first electoral use of the Internet as a mass fundraising and recruiting tool. Where other campaigns engaged in the traditional strategy of acquiring funds and recruiting volunteers at rallies and other organised events, Dean’s use of the Internet helped him to build a campaign fund far in excess of his early rivals. While Dean was ultimately unsuccessful in his bid for the Presidency, helped in large part by the now infamous ‘Dean Scream’, the ramifications of his media strategy have proved to be substantial.
The 2008 Presidential campaign saw the emergence of the then little known Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. Largely written off against the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of Hillary Clinton, the Obama campaign looked to the Dean strategy and used new media to build itself an extensive network of dedicated grassroots supporters. Mobile marketing proved a huge part in this.
Mass texting allowed Obama to communicate directly with his supporters on a personal level free from the spin afforded by mainstream media. It was further used to direct supporters to online content where they could learn more about getting involved or how they could donate to the campaign. Perhaps the most notable use of mobile technology occurred when Obama announced Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. Prior to the announcement, the campaign gave supporters the opportunity to sign up for a txt alert the moment Obama made his decision. The response was huge and when the decision was made, the alert was delivered to over 2.9 million supporters.
Since the success of the Obama campaign, candidates have endeavoured to find new ways to harness the benefits mobile marketing offers. In 2010, the senatorial campaign of Republican candidate Scott Brown created a mobile application that instructed users on how they could contribute to the campaign, either financially or by donating their time. The enthusiastic response this received was an important factor in Brown’s improbable victory.
With the midterm elections fast approaching, campaigns are eagerly searching for new and innovative ways that mobile technology can be used. A clear indicator that mobile technology will further change the way elections are contested.
Mobile Marketing and the Political Campaign