Political Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Written by Michael Whittington

This coming Tuesday, Americans will enter the voting booth once again – some of them for the first time – to elect the officials they feel are most suited to run their government. As unequivocally important as the outcome will be, there is also a lot of merit in studying the campaigns that led us to this point and to our personal decisions about who to vote for. For the first time ever, mobile marketing advertising played a serious role in campaigning for many candidates. In particular, QR codes helped to bridge print and digital media in a way that was easily, but fully customizable. While the target of a QR code cannot be changed, the content found at the target site can be. This means that if there is a new message or any piece of information that needs to be changed, the candidate’s representatives can do so and not have to print more/different flyers.

Last year, Mashable listed five ways they would like to see QR codes being utilized for the 2012 presidential race. They wanted to see…

 1. Mobile marketing campaigns being used to recruit attendants for political rallies and other events.

 2. Donations solicited using QR codes.

 3. Exclusive content – even if it’s just a funny video – to show the tech savvy that they are within the considerations of a particular candidate

 4. Mobile marketing strategy for promotional materials. Think of how much swag is manufactured and given out for every political campaign. Take pennants for example: why not start generating QR codes on one side so the supporter has something to refer to as they promote their candidate?

 5. People registering to vote.

Overall, Mashable’s dreams have not come true. As Joe Lazauskas over at Podium Ventures reports, the fifth item on the list was perhaps the only widely successful one with Rock the Vote running a mobile marketing campaign to register 1.5 million new voters in time for the 2012 election. However, that isn’t to say mobile marketing advertising was ignored outright.

“Shadow” Representative Mike Panetta claims to be the pioneer of generating QR codes and putting them on political street signs. This feature is great for pedestrians and is perhaps an effective mobile marketing strategy in cities. However, in small towns there aren’t likely to be a lot of people passing your sign – at least not on foot. If you’re running for office in a more rural or suburban area, I would advise against using mobile marketing advertising on your campaign signs unless the code was big enough for someone to scan from their car window – and that wouldn’t leave much room on the sign for your name, would it? However, for Panetta and his district, which happens to be one of Columbia (it’s Washington DC), QR codes have their chance to dance.

Campaigns and Elections stresses the same issue – arguing that campaign signs should be as uncluttered as possible. However, they do feel the mobile marketing advertising that was done during the political race was justified. In 2008, generating QR codes was a technology almost unheard of in the Eastern Hemisphere. Only 10% of the population owned a smartphone. That number, as discussed last week, now exceeds 50%. To not recognize and utilize this statistic with a mobile marketing campaign is, as Code ZQR so bluntly puts it, political suicide.

In addition to political signs, candidates’ mailings are ripe for use of a mobile marketing strategy. Accurate Leads recently published an article regarding this. Jim Ronecker, the mayor of Oldsmar, Florida, took his mobile marketing strategy to the next level. In addition to generating QR codes, he used augmented reality technology on his political flyers and postcards. The citizens of Oldsmar need only to check their mailbox and scan the promotional material with their smartphone. If using a virtual reality browser, the phone will begin to play a video of the candidate.

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