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This blog offers an international look at the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Indeed, campaigners worldwide are fascinated with American election campaigns. We observe relentless paid television advertising, straight-forward attack spots, sophisticated targeting and record-breaking fundraising. One cannot – and should not – simply copy paste American campaign techniques. However, campaigners out there in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia can get a lot of inspiration and specific takeaways from the most professional campaign in the world. This is the purpose of this blog.

If You Want Something, You Will Find Ways.....

I once conducted a workshop with a labor union on how to launch a campaign to get more members. The campaign would ultimately be successful, mostly because my client, the head of the union, relentlessly pushed his team to implement our plan. However, with respect to some members of the union leadership, it felt a bit like pulling teeth at the beginning of the process. I would hear plenty of reasons why a specific action could not be taken in their specific context. This reminded me of the saying: “If you want something, you will find ways. If you don’t want something, you will find reasons.” I don’t remember who said it, but the person deserves great credit. On these words, I wish you all a great summer. I will be back here early September. Cheers!

Great Campaigns Are Never a Rerun of Previous Great Campaigns

How will your next campaign be different from your last one? I remember how I once asked a prospective client who wanted to run for higher office how his upcoming campaign will be different from the previous ones. I could see in his face that he has never thought about it that way. I always tell my clients who run for re-election and particularly those who run for higher office that their next campaign has to be different than their last one. Great campaigns may well contain elements of previous great campaigns, but they should never be a simple rerun.

Time Is the Most Important Ressource in a Campaign

Many people think that money is the most important ressource in a campaign. While campaign funds are definitely of essence, I have come to realize that time is even more important. One of the biggest mistakes campaign teams make is not to start planning early. Some politicians are hesitant to start early because they don’t want to spend early. As a result, they waste time. When there is no more time to be wasted, they then start to waste money. I have turned down business worth several tens of thousands of dollars from clients who have approached me when it was too late, a couple of weeks before the election. There’s no point for me to start an operation when the patient is dead. This being said, one of the most important things for campaign teams to do early on is to neutralize weaknesses. A so-called inoculation strategy takes time to be implemented. Your candidate might be seen as too old or too young, for example. Or your party may be perceived as elitist. All these things can be dealt with from a marketing perspective. They may never turn into strengths, but they can be neutralized over time. What is the inoculation plan for your campaign?