What Is a Fundraising Upsell?
July 2022 | by Beth Baumann and Conner Downard
Since the dawn of American politics, Democrats and Republicans alike have widely followed the tried-and-true practice of using red, white, and blue for branding their campaigns.
But when you look at the aesthetic choices of many of today’s political campaigns, you’ll see a robust palette of colors – many of which are nowhere to be found on our flag.
With the U.S. Senate conveniently split 50-50 (if you count two left-leaning independents as Democrats), we analyzed every sitting senator’s most recent campaign branding to find if one party is diverging from red, white, and blue more than the other.
80% of Republican Senators used red, white, and blue compared to just 56% of Democrats.
We’ll be honest – these results aligned with our expectations. And the trend continues when you look at recent prominent Democratic campaigns from the congressional level all the way up to frontrunner presidential campaigns.
All eyes were on Virginia in 2021 for the gubernatorial election between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe –– and the contrast between their get-out-the-vote ads couldn’t have been any starker.
Let’s be brutally honest about the visual messages these ads communicated.
Glenn Youngkin’s ads conveyed a strong, patriotic, and familiar message, while some of McAuliffe’s ads gave the impression he was running for mayor of Sesame Street instead of Governor of Virginia.
While it’s ultimately candidates, not color choices, that win elections, it’s safe to assume that McAuliffe’s branding didn’t do him any favors. Virginia is for lovers – of Americana, apparently.
Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign made waves with Liberty Green (see above), a fresh, minty shade with a not-so-subtle nod to the Statue of Liberty’s copper coating.
While her campaign ultimately flopped, going green has worked for Democrats in the past.
Way back in 1976, Jimmy Carter became the last candidate to win the White House without using red, white, and blue. Bold move, Jimmy – especially when you consider this wasn’t just any ol’ year he was running in. It was America’s Bicentennial!
Looking at the Democratic Senators who aren’t using RW&B, roughly a third rely heavily on green. But it’s not the only other color in the mix. Almost two-thirds of this group use purple – often alongside website copy touting their records of “working across the aisle” and laments of Washington being “rife with division.”
Like the colors of our flag are a symbol of patriotism, purple has long been used by candidates like Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper whose politics aren’t entirely blue… or red.
While you can find just about every color imaginable on modern-day political ads, yard signs, and logos, Old Glory’s colors aren’t going anywhere. Those colors aren’t cliche.
That simple color choice effectively conveys at a glance that your brand is (1) political and (2) loves America… and for many audiences, that’s a GOOD thing.
Contrary to what pollsters are saying about Americans being less patriotic than ever, we’ve observed that voters and donors still have a HUGE appetite for candidates who are trustworthy, reliable, and downright proud to be American.
Even if it’s your 7th election cycle and you’re sick of politics, your small-dollar donors aren’t.
But at the end of the day, the best brand is one that’s authentic to you, your story, and your message, whether you’re a blaze orange outsider or red, white, and blue, through and through.
Building those brands and getting them in front of the right eyes and ears is what we do every single day at IMGE.
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