Obama’s campaign embraces guerrilla marketing tactics

President Barak Obama’s campaign team is going ad rogue: instead of following the canon of political advertising, mainly that you need to pound one simple message over and over into the heads of voters, the campaign is betting on “scattered, unsustained messaging,” Slate reports.

Currently the Obama re-election camp is spending U$25 million on television time, none of which has been put towards national ads. Rather, the hyper-targeted messages include:

…a nine-state buy for a 60-second overview of Obama’s first-term successes; a Spanish-language health-care ad running in Florida and another in English about higher-education costs appearing there and in Nevada; and a long ad about Bain Capital that reportedly cost less than $100,000 to place in markets across five states.

What’s different about the new ad strategy is that real groups of voters are used to measure ad effectiveness, instead of using focus groups (which are usually hired to vet ads before they go into a wider exposure). According to Slate, this amounts to an “experimental revolution underway at Obama’s Chicago headquarters,” helped by an association with the Analyst Institute, “a secret society of Democratic researchers.”

The New York Times explains a bit further, calling such efforts:

…behavioral-science experiments that treat campaigns as their laboratories and voters as unwitting guinea pigs. The growing use of experimental methods (…) is convulsing a profession where hunches and instinct have long ruled.

Savvy advertising and communications were decidedly a driver of Obama’s victory in 2008. We’ll see in November if this new approach to messaging worked.