Something on the order of $2 billion dollars was spent on the just concluded American Presidential election--roughly what our Department of "Defense" spends daily on weaponry.
As advertising people, when someone spends in three or four months at levels higher than all of Unilever or Proctor and Gamble, it probably makes sense to take a look at that massive expenditure and see if there's anything we can learn from the profligacy.
Here's my one sentence conclusion. Targeting isn't all it's cracked up to be. Or looked at another way, just because you can target "left-handed one-legged lesbians who are pro-coal," doesn't mean you should. Read the ineffable Keith Byrne on this matter at his blog "Flotsam:" http://keithrbyrne.tumblr.com/post/35060981016/data-gone-wild
The other night I was watching local TV and saw in a row three Romney commercials each sliced to a narrow segment of "likely" voters. Each spot was so "small" as to be all but wasted on about 99% of viewers. What's more, through the three spots--and through the hundreds of spots created for either Romney or Obama--was no central theme.
In other words, neither campaign had a campaign idea.
No central promise.
No central story.
No memorable, ownable, credible themeline that summed up who, what, why, when and where.
In other words, communications that might appeal to a tiny segment but which was wasted on the mass of eyeballs viewing.
There are plenty of communication woes that money can solve.
Even lack of idea.
But, I believe, you still need a central truth, a promise to the viewer. I think what happens in a Presidential campaign is this. (Mind you, I've never worked on one.) There are a bunch of creatives trying to sell their individual or package of spots. But there is no creative director. There is no one steering the ship. No one with a hand on the tiller.
That showed in both campaigns.
And they both failed to have an impact.
Despite the billions spent.