Elections Inspire Marketers (and Vice Versa)

Bud Light's and Trojan's Provocative Jokes Foreshadow GOP Spat

By Published on .

Are you sick of campaign ads already? Marketers aren't.

Brands from Pop-Tarts to Trojan condoms are running ads using an election theme. Bud Light, for instance, has built an entire campaign around the "Bud Light Party," a fake political party backed by Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen that uses jokes and puns to sell beer -- and inclusivity. "Because no matter where we all stand on the issues, we all sit on bar stools," reads part of a manifesto on the brand's website.

The campaign has even proven strangely prescient. Its Super Bowl ad included politically unthinkable sexual innuendo: "We've got the biggest caucus in the country," Mr. Rogen says. "But it's not like too big, like you can handle it," Ms. Schumer adds. During last Thursday's GOP debate, the unthinkable became unavoidable when Donald Trump defended his penis size against Marco Rubio. ("I guarantee you there's no problem," Mr. Trump told an aghast nation.)

Election-themed ads are nothing new, but there seem to be more this cycle because "consumers have changed and respond better to more topical, relevant-to-my-life ads," said Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor at San Francisco's Golden Gate University. Plus, "it's the craziest, jaw-dropping election ever, and we just plain want to talk about it, think about it and are therefore more likely to pay attention to election-themed ads."

Here is a sampling of recent election-themed marketing.

CHRYSLER

Ads star Martin Sheen, who played President Josiah Bartlet in the TV series "The West Wing," and Bill Pullman, who portrayed President Thomas J. Whitmore in the "Independence Day" movie. In one spot, called "Swerve," the two men reprise their fictional presidential roles and discuss how primary season means it's time to "pander to all the nuts on the political fringe." Wieden & Kennedy is behind the ads.

JETBLUE

The airline punked a group of JetBlue passengers on a trip from Boston to Phoenix. A spokesman presented them with a challenge: Each of the travelers would win a free JetBlue trip, but only if all 150 passengers could "Reach Across the Aisle" and decide on a single destination. The passengers had a whole lineup of JetBlue flights to choose from. Ultimately, the passengers found something we haven't been seeing on the campaign trail -- common ground -- and all scored a trip to Costa Rica as a result. Mullen Lowe is the agency.

POP-TARTS

The Kellogg brand is putting up for vote at popthevote2016.com all 22 varieties, from frosted blueberry to red velvet. Each flavor is making its own pitch, like frosted raspberry's claim that it "won't be put on the back toaster." Hot fudge sundae is "making it rain on the campaign trail," according to one video ad that shows the tart spreading sprinkles around. Agencies on the campaign are Leo Burnett, Edelman's Krispr and VML.

LEGAL SEA FOODS

Advertising Age Player

The East Coast restaurant chain is running a campaign in which CEO Roger Berkowitz pursues a fake presidential bid and gives his "fishy take on a number of hot-button issues." In one spot, he declares his support for gay rights, noting that "we proudly serve rainbow trout." The agency is DeVito/Verdi.

HOTELS.COM

Another guy running for president is Captain Obvious, the Hotels.com mascot who's kind of like a walking, talking dad joke. The proud master of the strikingly clear believes he is fit to win the race. Why? "I've seen the other candidates," he says in a new ad via CP&B. "They don't seem very fit at all."

TROJAN

With shades of the Rubio-Trump anatomy feud, the condom brand is out with a film created by Tongal that shows different varieties of Trojan condom packets in a TV debate over who should be "erected." They all shout about their different qualities: Trojan Her Pleasure "goes deeper," while Trojan Magnum is designed for "big" business owners and Trojan Groove is an "outsider ... ready to go inside."

YMCA

A new ad puts the spotlight on Zoe, age 1, making the point that she could be president in 2064, assuming she gets the right nurturing as she grows up. The campaign by Droga5 highlights the potential in all kids to change the world if they're supported throughout childhood and their teen years.

Contributing: Alexandra Jardine

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