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The Politics of Promotional Products

Posted November 3, 2010  |  written by  |  Promotions by Industry, Tips and Trends from the Experts
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Promotional Campaign T-Shirt

As you are probably aware, yesterday was Election Day. We here at InkHead hope you all went out and exercised your right to vote and that the candidates who won will lead this country in a positive direction. Truth be told, we are looking forward to the end of all those incendiary political television ads and the campaign signs that adorn practically every yard. Of course, the respite from gaudy lawn ornamentation won’t last long; the start of the Christmas season is just three short weeks away.

Speaking of politics, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) recently issued a press release on each political party’s preference for promotional items based on a series of in-person interviews they had conducted over the summer, and the results are eye-opening. The press release aptly summarizes the Impression Study by stating “Republicans like food gifts, Democrats prefer logoed pens and independents might scoff at anything less than a brand-name shirt.”

Promotional Products for Republicans

As already mentioned, Republicans are the most likely to accept Custom Promotional Food Baskets than either Democrats or interviewees who identified themselves as independent. Interestingly, Republican voters receive less outerwear than Democrats, but they are more likely overall to receive a promotional product than Democrats. Further, Republicans are the most likely to give away the items they do not want, so their candidate’s message may be seen by people who may not have seen it otherwise.

Promotional Products for Democrats

Democrats, on the other hand, are not as likely to accept food baskets and receive the least amount of promotional items, as compared to Democrats and Independents. Could that be part of the reason they lost control of the House? Moreover, Dems do not care as much as Independents when it comes to name-brand promotional products, but they will nearly always take some Promotional Logo Pens, customized with the candidate’s name and slogan.

Promotional Products for Independents

The study also states that Independent voters value promotional products the most and prefer name-brand items more than Republicans or Democrats. Independents frequently receive promotional bags, most likely so that they can hold more promotional items. What struck us most was that Independents receive the least amount of Custom Fleece, but they receive the most Customized Shirts.

That Independents are not as well established in the House or Senate as Republicans or Democrats speaks to their reliance on promotional products. Without political machines (and cash-generators) like the DNC or the GOP behind you, it is tough to buy ad time. More importantly, depending on the item, promotional products can provide repeat impressions of that candidate’s name.

What Promotional Products Don’t Work for Politicians

Perhaps the most enlightening tidbit from the study is what promotional items are rarely given out, if at all. Democrats and Republicans rarely dispense Corporate Recognition Awards, and Independents do not distribute them at all. Furthermore, none of the interviewees had received Personalized Automotive Products, perhaps because of the relatively short election cycle. With House representatives up for re-election every two years, it may not make sense for a candidate to dole out Custom Ice Scrapers. Having said that, a Personalized License Plate Frame would make an excellent alternative to the traditional bumper sticker.

The Bottom Line

Promotional products are cheaper per impression than prime-time advertising, so they are certainly worth purchasing when campaigning for political office. More importantly, each political party has its own preference for promotional products, so it’s important to know which items to get and which ones not to get. In the days of endless smear campaigns, it’s easy to disregard every politician; however, effective use of a promotional product can help a candidate reach his constituency in more meaningful ways.

What do you think? Has a candidate’s use of promotional products played a role in your local elections?

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