As Barack Obama campaigns at his final rally today in the vital swing state of Ohio with his pals Jay-Z (who sang, "I've got 99 problems, but Mitt ain't one) and Bruce Springsteen, apparently some voters may be confused. And not because they're undecided.
The hard-fought, long-awaited presidential election will finally take place on Tuesday and America will decide which leader it wants to follow: President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney. This pair has done pretty much everything it can on the marketing front, short of skywriting and Potter-style notes delivered by owl, to get their respective messages out to voters. Combined, their campaigns have spent more than a billion dollars on television ads alone this election, an almost embarrassing sum of money given the state of the U.S. economy.
And online was no different. The two candidates have dedicated digital teams that have been trying to push their message through every online channel imaginable. One of those, though, is getting some negative attention: brand hijacking. That's when a brand buys search-engine ad space for when a consumer searches for a competing brand. In some parts of the US, when someone searches for “Barack Obama” in Google or Facebook, ads for Romney appear. And when some Americans search for “Mitt Romney,” ads for Barack Obama appear.
“There are some real negatives in terms of causing consumer confusion and misdirecting people,” Peter Harvey, an attorney at Harvey Siskind LLP, commented to Businessweek. “It’s a problem.” What isn’t a problem is the price. Analysis from digital marketing agency Rise Interactive estimates that the campaigns on spent tens of thousands of dollars on this tactic in the third quarter. Of course, some consumers see it as kind of a nasty way of doing business and will hold it against a presidential candidate. But the good must outweigh the bad for the campaigns because they both keep on doing it.
And all of America will get to see just how effective those dollars spent were soon enough. Speaking of Obama's rally in Columbus, Ohio, today, the president told the audience that he was honored to have Jay-Z, who appeared in a recent campaign commercial, and Springsteen open for him because both tell American stories (and "both are on my iPod," he added). The pitch for the Ohio concert/rally:
President Obama and Jay-Z in Columbus, Ohio: President Obama makes the final push in his last campaign -- a nonstop sprint to the finish starting with grassroots events in Madison, Wisconsin and Columbus, Ohio. For the final stop, the President and First Lady will return to Iowa, where it all began in the winter of 2007, for one final grassroots rally in Des Moines. In Columbus, Ohio Jay Z will give a performance and the President will make his closing argument. The President's grassroots events will be streamed live at www.barackobama.com/live. The President will tell voters it's time to finish what we've started, and make sure that no matter who you are, where you come from, or how you started out, this is the country where you can make it if you try.
While waiting for the live-stream, BarackObama.com also played the just-released Will Ferrell "mock the vote" video below. Will it all be enough to clinch a second term? For more on political branding in this U.S. election cycle, check out Interbrand's IQ: The Political Branding issue.