Advertising and marketing insiders are looking at Trump’s popularity both before and after his election and questioning themselves.. Two aspects of traditional advertising and marketing most under scrutiny are promotional tactics and the accuracy of data gathering. While media was and still is largely at odds with Trump, the industry lacked what it took to make a Hillary Clinton presidency possible. Data never fully captured the size of the American population rooting for a candidate the ad and marketing industries perceived as a long shot, which has left a shadow of doubt on old school methods such as TV endorsements and commercials. It has also resulted in a falling confidence about market research ability to forecast political wins and losses.
Why running ads isn't as effective as was once thought
Hillary Clinton brought in Droga5, an Ad Agency in New York that has been ranked as one of the best in the world, to manage her image and message. The conclusion drawn after her loss is that even having the most successful ad teams behind her was ultimately ineffective at persuading American audiences that she should be president. In recent interviews conducted with thought leaders and influencers in the ad and marketing industries, Fast Company spoke to Venable, Bell & Partners founder Paul Venable. “This election suggests that if traditional marketing research is anything like polling data, it’s utterly useless,” he said.
Why building ad and marketing teams that represent a more diverse spectrum of Americans is essential
The industry has to develop a more realistic view of what comprises American culture and just who Americans are. Its assumptions that Trump was a marginal figure outside the mainstream led towards decisions that were ultimately weak when it came to assessing the mood and aspirations of so many Americans.
The lesson that Nike is teaching
Nike’s decision to bring Colin Kaepernick on board to represent its brand was initially perceived as a high-risk move. Companies have always been more geared towards having celebrities free of controversy to endorse their products. Michael Phelps smoking pot from a bong wreaked havoc on his “boy next door” image. Kellogs Cornflakes dropped him from its boxes. America has changed quite a bit since then though. Athletes across the sports world are openly speaking out about their marijuana usage as its legality spreads. Instead of avoiding a radical spokesperson, Nike partnered with one. Kaepernick's activism in the NFL is leading the company towards record profits as a result of Nike taking a progressive move that gave voice to millions. During the 2016 football season fans booed when a recording of President Obama talking about the importance of unity played. The hostile reception was linked towards the phenomenon of black football players kneeling instead of saluting the flag. While there were fans who burnt Nike gear in September 2018 to show their disapproval towards the company's "Just Do It" campaign, a vast enough demographic of those who Kaepernick’s activism speaks for is rejuvenating the Nike brand.
The bottom line is that choosing heroes in America’s constantly evolving culture requires advertising and marketing cultures that can keep up with the momentum. Clinton’s loss to Trump was a call to action for both industries to analyze everything from link building services to image building. Kaepernick becoming the profitable face of the Nike brand is another. Keeping a finger on the pulse of such a culturally complex society will be essential if the advertising and marketing industries want to hold on to their relevance. As CP+B LA chief creative officer Kevin Jones remarked in his conversation with Fast Company, “...I think this election will have a big impact on advertising, in that we probably all have to examine what is happening in this country and how to readjust our advertising tools to be more effective moving forward.”