In 1952, advertising guru Rosser Reeves convinced Dwight Eisenhower that airing TV commercials on popular programs would reach more voters than other forms of advertising. Eisenhower's opponent, Adlai Stevenson, in contrast, was quoted as saying, "The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal is the ultimate indignity to the democratic process." Needless to say, he was a two-time loser to Eisenhower! Therefore, as with consumer product marketing, political advertising via television was initiated emphasizing the USP or "unique selling proposition," the key feature that would differentiate the product (candidate) from the competition.
This 6 week course will highlight the marketing principles and strategies utilized to run political campaigns in the U.S. Although the course primarily will focus on the stages of Presidential races, including polling, fundraising, communication strategies, media, and television commercial evaluation, the marketing techniques employed can be applied to congressional, state and local elections. Students will analyze campaign case studies, specifically from the 2012 Republican primaries, the 2012 general election, the 2008 Democratic Primary and general election. Guest speakers will enhance the learning experience by providing their individual expertise on the specified topic. Regarding fundraising, for example, the New York Tri-State Finance Director for Obama for America demonstrated the marketing tactics employed in that arena. Other speakers have included former Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, newly elected Senator Cory Booker, and Hillary Clinton’s pollster and consultant, Mark Penn. Finally, there will be a team project where each group chooses any Presidential political campaign and analyzes the effectiveness of the communication strategies utilized for both the winner and loser.
Prerequisites: B6601 "Marketing: Innovation through Customer Centricity, Part I" and B6602 "Marketing: Innovation through Customer Centricity, Part II".
Ellen Schapps was a Columbia Business School faculty member from 2011 to 2016.