How Marketers Can Leverage Presidential Debates for Success

Some marketers view the debates as an occasion to ball out almost as much as they would for actual ball-related events 🏈. 

For once, Americans care about politics almost as much as sports—so one could say last night’s presidential debate was a Super Bowl-level marketing opportunity. 

  • For context, the 2020 Super Bowl had 99.9 million viewers. 
  • Some projected last night’s debate would draw upwards of 100 million viewers, although early figures suggest more modest numbers. It’s worth noting these figures don’t account for OTT viewing, which has skyrocketed since 2016. 

It wasn’t always this way: A Clinton vs. Trump debate broke records to become the most-watched debate in history with 84 million viewers. In comparison, the first 2012 Obama-Romney debate only averaged 67 million viewers, per Nielsen data.

With those numbers in mind, some marketers view the debates as an occasion to ball out almost as much as they would for actual ball-related events 🏈. 

Marketing for debates? Absolutely

If Amazon’s #BeforeAlexa commercial stole the ball at the 2020 Super Bowl, then Absolut’s “Vote First, Drink Second” campaign took center stage at the debates. 

  • The 15-second video spot depicts a white truck emblazoned with the words “Dear America: Your Vote Can Shake or Stir the Election. Vote First, Drink Second” next to the new Absolut voting-themed bottle. 
  • “Vote First, Drink Second” premiered on September 29, just before the first debate. 
  • Additionally, the campaign will span TV, out-of-home (OOH), digital, and social channels.

“Vote First, Drink Second” itself isn’t terribly unique—dozens of other brands planned campaigns around voter registration earlier this month. But timing the message around the debates seems savvy, given the program’s projected viewership levels. 

Looking ahead

If you’re not convinced that the debates are the next Super Bowl for marketers, know that… 

  • The 17 to 20 TV networks airing the debates this year were reportedly sold out or nearly sold out of advertising inventory for the special by Monday.
  • Debate ad rev for said TV networks is projected to far surpass the $16 million mark set back in 2016.
  • During the last presidential election, only ~13 TV networks aired the debates, per MediaPost.

🔎: If brands like Absolut see a high ROI from 2020’s debates, 2024’s suite of on-stage arguments could see a far wider swatch of advertisers vying for inventory than ever before.


Via Morning Brew

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