Obama's campaign booklet as marketing strategy

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally at the Delray Beach Tennis Center on October 23, 2012 in Delray Beach, Fla.

The Obama campaign today launched a massive media blitz -- targeted mostly at swing states -- to spell out the president’s plans for the next four years if he’s re-elected.

The strategy includes a full-color, 20-page booklet. And that got us wondering: why spend money on a booklet when you can post the contents online at a fraction of the cost?

This ad campaign is big, radio spots, direct mailers, T.V. commercials. And then there’s the booklet -- all 3.5 million copies of it. A typical publishing run is normally in the hundred-thousands.

Sasha Strauss, with the branding company Innovation Protocol, says think of the booklet like free keychains you’d get at a convention. Even if it never gets read, the booklet serves as a physical reminder for people.

“They want something that feels more than just digital letters being sent out through the digital universe to digital recipients on their mobile phones while they are on subways,” he says.

Strauss says just putting a campaign message online in this super-saturated media landscape is too easily lost.

The Obama campaign would not say how much the booklets cost but it’s planning to distribute them mostly in swing states as part of their grass-roots strategy.

Four years ago, the Obama campaign was known for its use of the Internet. With these booklets, Strauss says the campaign is showing some range.

“This is saying you’ve had the last five years Republican Party to catch up to us in social media and you are doing a little better now, we are going to do a little 180. We are going to show you even if we use classic, classic methods of communication we can still effectively tell people what we believe in,” he says.

Marissa Gluck is a media consultant at Radar Research. She says successful ad campaigns must do a little bit of everything. 

“No product, whether we are talking about a politician or soap only advertises in one medium,” says Gluck.

If you do, she warns that a company -- or a candidate -- risks missing out on potential buyers.


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About the author

Dan Gorenstein is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Health Desk. You can follow him on Twitter @dmgorenstein.

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