Posted July 14th 2010 at 12:15 pm by
in The Urban Labs

How Your Political Campaign Can Learn from Companies that Know How to Use the Internet

For the past four years Doritos has hosted Crash the Super Bowl, a contest for consumer generated commercials. Doritos gets thousands of advertisements and picks six finalists.  The public votes on the top three, and the top three get aired during the Super Bowl.

There is potential for winning up to $5 million prize money if the ad scores in the top three spots, as measured by advertising meters. The cost of the incentive is well worth it. As Rudy Wilson, vice president of Frito Lay highlighted in a press release announcing the finalists.

“Time and time again our fans have proven they have the creativity and talent to match up against the best in the advertising business, and we couldn’t be more thrilled for this year’s Crash the Super Bowl winners,” said Wilson.

These commercials could not be conceived in an advertising agency; they are expressions of the relationship the consumer has with the product, and it works. The Crash the SuperBowl campaign generated more than one billion media impressions and over $35 million in ad equivalency with roughly one half of the impressions coming from non-traditional media outlets.

Business trends of crowdsourcing are very exciting for the world of politics. Crowdsourcing is a way to tap into the collective intelligence of people. It allows you to get the involvement of your target audience and create buy-in through their participation. There are some great business models, such as, that are worth exploring. The basic idea at Threadless is that customers vote on the T-shirt design they feel should be produced. The incentive of seeing your shirt mass-produced and sold encourages the designer to get people involved in the website so that they will vote for their design.

This concept is easily translatable for a political campaign that has a base of support to get involved. Do it right and it will lead to an authentic way to deepen relationships with your potential voters and people in their networks who have the potential of being at least a voter, and at most an active supporter of your campaign. Saying you are committed to voters does not go far enough in ensuring they are included. Here are some steps to including more voters in a more meaningful way.

Try this: Have your base help create your message.

Having a contest around posters, t-shirts and commercials for your campaign could give you a lot of creative content and promotion for your campaign. Offering the winner a chance to see their product mass-produced and organizing a high profile public relations campaign event to unveil the winner should be the incentive your community will need to create authentic messages.

Having worked on a lot of local campaigns that do not have neither the money that Frito Lay has nor the excitement in a presidential election, I caution you to keep perspective. Smaller campaigns should evaluate how this could be applied.  The most important questions to ask yourself are: 1) do we have a community that will want to get involved in the contest? 2) Do we have the means to reach them? and 3) is our prize enough to motivate people?  Do not organize a contest for making commercials if your community or your campaign does not have the resources to develop and distribute a commercial.

A poster contest is a great because you can get kids, families and local artists involved and your campaign should be able to produce and distribute them. If not, you have bigger problems in your campaign than excitement.

One response to “How Your Political Campaign Can Learn from Companies that Know How to Use the Internet”

  1. Alexa Mills says:

    I agree and I think this mentality applies to so many things. Campaigns, like news delivery structures, often take for granted that the people who support them are independent thinkers with their own valuable ideas and information to contribute. I like what Doritos is doing here. Thank you for highlighting this example and spreading your analysis of it.