In my last post, I analyzed the impact of traditional and social media on the Republican primary contest. Here, I’ll look at the issues that have had the most media traction since May 29, when Mitt Romney gained enough delegates to claim the Republican presidential nomination.
The dominant issue since late May has been jobs and employment. A key driver of coverage was the Department of Labor’s monthly jobs report, released on June 1. The release resulted in a large spike in coverage, as both President Obamaand Romney commented on the report, and it’s likely that subsequent reports will draw significant pick-up during the rest of the campaign. A second spike in jobs coverage occurred during mid- June when both candidates visited the battleground state of Ohio to promote their visions for creating new jobs.
At the other end of the spectrum is the relatively light volume of coverage since late May for issues such as immigration, taxes and health care, which played central roles in recent presidential and congressional campaigns. The low volume of health care coverage has been particularly surprising, since the Affordable Care Act has been a much debated component of Obama’s legislative initiatives, and Romney’s health care program was a centerpiece of his term as governor of Massachusetts. It’s worth noting, however, that this issue will likely gain significant traction after the Supreme Court rules on key components of the Affordable Care Act this summer.
Social media results have generally mirrored traditional media for coverage of jobs, taxes and health care. This indicates that the candidates’ campaigns or the government’s scheduled economic reports are driving the discussions and setting the agenda for traditional media coverage and conversations in social media.
Traditional and Social Media Analysis of Presidential Campaign Issues: Jobs, Taxes and Health Care
Advocates of social media have claimed that an effective social media campaign has become essential for candidates in recent election cycles. While the impact of social media may be increasing, particularly when used for organizing volunteers and raising campaign funds, findings from this analysis indicate traditional media still plays an essential role and is more likely to drive social media coverage of the candidates than the other way around.
Each election cycle is argued to be “the year” when a social media campaign will trump traditional methods of campaign success, like personal wealth, strong financial backing and support from party officials. In 2004, Howard Dean was considered the candidate most likely to break through due to his support among young voters and their reliance on social media, and Ron Paul has been viewed as the candidate who picked up that mantle in both 2008 and 2012.
While Paul received a higher percentage of social media results than the other candidates, Mitt Romney, the candidate with the fundraising advantage and stronger backing within the Republican establishment, has a 25-point advantage over Paul (according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal polls). It appears that a reliance on social media has not yet proven to be the decisive factor in presidential elections.
The marketing and media efforts of FIFA World Cup sponsors and advertisers during the run-up to the tournament have been discussed previously in this blog. Now that the tournament is over, it’s an appropriate time to analyze the most interesting aspect of World Cup marketing this year, which involved the intense competition between sporting goods companies Adidas and Nike.
Adidas has a long-standing relationship with FIFA and the World Cup that goes back more than 30 years. As an official partner, the referees’ uniforms and the balls are Adidas-branded, along with the ads around the playing field and on television during the matches.
Nike, which was not an official sponsor, had to be creative in order to be competitive with Adidas. The company’s approach was to launch a viral “ambush” campaign on its Facebook page prior to the start of the tournament. Its “Write the Future” ad featured players from several countries who imagined how their lives would change if they starred in the World Cup. By launching the ad on the company’s Facebook page before it ran on television, Nike created a buzz that saw its number of followers on Facebook double within the first week.
This buzz resulted in a large spike in Nike’s coverage in social media generally, as many blogs and message boards discussed the ad and provided a link to the video. An added benefit for Nike is that the ambush campaign created the impression for many consumers that Nike was a sponsor of the tournament. This was quite a coup — as well as a cost-saver — since FIFA charges $125 million for its World Cup “partners.”
The volume of coverage is of course important in marketing, but so is the quality of the coverage. Fortunately for Nike, much of the social media buzz generated by “Write the Future” was favorable, with numerous people recommending the ad in public forums or sending the link to friends.
Adidas saw its biggest spike in coverage shortly before the start of the tournament in June, but much of the coverage – both in social and traditional media – concerned criticism of the Jabulani ball Adidas created for tournament. This negative coverage is proof that the quantity of coverage doesn’t necessarily translate into advertising value equivalency (AVE).
Of course, both companies wanted the teams and players they sponsored to succeed and there’s a certain cachet for outfitting the top teams. Performance probably wasn’t a critical factor, however, since Nike generated the buzz they wanted prior to the tournament and only hard-core fans focused on the disappointing performances of such players as Wayne Rooney, Franck Ribery and Christiano Ronaldo, who were featured in the ads.
So who is ultimately the winner? It’s hard to find much wrong with Nike’s strategy, since they didn’t have to pay the $125 million partnership fee; much of the publicity for their campaign was generated by consumers; and they managed to receive more media coverage than all of the paid sponsors, except Adidas.
On the other hand, Adidas may be able to overlook all of the costs and controversies it encountered, since the ultimate image of the tournament will be the Spanish team raising the World Cup trophy – clad in Adidas jerseys.
David Breg is a media consultant based in Washington, D.C.
My colleague, Inma Canti, and I recently prepared a report on media coverage of the corporate sponsors of the 2010 World Cup football (soccer) tournament. We thought this would be an interesting topic because the event is the world’s most watched sporting event and a big platform for corporate sponsors who are willing to shell out millions of dollars to have their names and brands affiliated with the event.
A noteworthy finding in the report is Coca-Cola’s strong emphasis on marketing events associated with the World Cup and its efforts to promote these activities in the media. For example, Coke had more than double the number of media placements for its World Cup activities than Visa, which was the company with the next highest volume of placements. Also, Coke CEO Muhtar Kent was the executive quoted or mentioned most often in the coverage.
These results should not be surprising, considering Coke’s recent strategy that emphasizes growth in global markets. Kent noted in the company’s 2008 annual report that, “critical to expanding our global beverage leadership is achieving balanced growth across a range of geographies. We have identified emerging markets as critical to our business growth. We are [also] taking aggressive actions to reinforce our business in key developed markets like Japan, North America and parts of Western Europe.”
Being a World Cup sponsor is an expensive proposition: official sponsorships cost $125 million, which doesn’t include the marketing activities undertaken by the companies to promote their involvement with the tournament. It’s logical for Coke to devote considerable resources to this effort, however, since the event is an ideal platform for a company emphasizing a growth strategy focused on emerging markets (16 of the 32 participating teams are from Africa, Latin America, or Eastern Europe), Western Europe (9 teams) and Japan (also a participant). Our data show that 74% of the media coverage for World Cup corporate sponsors in Q3 came from either European or African sources, which confirms that the World Cup is probably an ideal vehicle for Coke’s marketing strategy.
A copy of the World Cup 2010 Sponsors media report can be found here.
David Breg is a media consultant based in Washington, D.C.