2016 Presidential Election: Go Digital, Or Go Home!

Historically, politicians running for office have used different advertising tactics to spread their message.  While the current presidential race features traditional forms of advertising, they are also relying heavily on digital marketing. Whether it’s through informative websites, call-to-action banner ads, or popular social media; this year’s presidential candidates are definitely doing the digital dance.  According to this article, political digital ad spending will reach $1 billion in 2016. That’s a 5000% increase from the money spent on digital campaigns in 2008’s presidential election– times sure are changing!


Creatively, banner ads are an easy way to enforce a candidate’s brand.  Banner ads typically feature the candidate’s name boldly: Presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, oftentimes refers to herself simply as “Hillary” in banner ads, while Bernie Sanders uses his full name.  Banner ads also usually some type of call-to-action. Sanders usually uses the same phrase, “Join the political revolution”, while Clinton uses a variation of phrases, as well as personal pronouns to appear more relatable to voters.  For Clinton’s birthday, a banner ad asked for voters to “sign her birthday card” to promote a friendly persona. Both desktop and mobile ads feature similar coloring and consistent fonts to keep each candidate’s brand message clear.

While each presidential candidate uses social media in different ways to promote their message, Republican candidate Donald Trump seems to have utilized it the most thus far.  Trump hasn’t been shy on Twitter, and has used it to voice his personal opinions, and his planned agenda.  Due to Trump’s ability to garner a huge amount of attention, he has paid the least out of all the candidates on digital marketing; yet he continues to be the most talked about candidate around the dinner table.


Bernie Sanders approaches social media a bit differently than his opponents.  Sanders’ followers believe that together, they’re part of an American revolution, and often promote the candidate themselves.  Sanders’ supporters have even created Feelthebern.org in order to help inform the country about where he stands on different issues.  Derived from the site, came the hashtag, #feelthebern, which is considered one of the catchiest yet. The popular social media platform, Snapchat, was instrumental in influencing Iowa voters, and helped target a key demographic during a very exciting time.

Hillary Clinton’s marketing team really explored all aspects of social media.  It has been argued that Clinton’s social media campaign resembled that of a Buzzfeed model, complete with memes, interactive quizzes, and original articles. Clinton’s team really strives to reach the young audience it needs to get her elected into office.

No matter which candidate you stand behind, it’s clear that digital marketing is playing a massive role in this year’s election.  The way you feel about each candidate is strongly based on the influence of their digital media campaigns.  It’s not crazy to assume upcoming elections will continue to center more and more around digital marketing, and stray  further away from traditional advertising tactics.