Marketing politics in age of automation

The two major parties competing in the Oct. 14 byelection are focusing on online campaigns to promote their candidates and get more people to the polls.

Every party has their own approach to advertising, which has a major influence on voter turnout. Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs resigned to be Premier John Horgan’s chief of staff, leaving a single seat on council with nine candidates running. 

“Advertising online in a targeted way is the most effective for us,” NPA candidate Hector Bremner said. “We have had two videos go viral already as to why housing is so expensive in Vancouver and how we can fix it.”

Take a look at NPA’s Facebook page however and see that they have posted only 13 times in 2017, ten of which have come since September.

We invest pretty heavily in our digital campaign – 365 days a year – and we’re the only party in Vancouver that does that,” director of communications for Vision Vancouver, Paul Nixey said. “You’ve probably seen a lot of Google adword traffic and that kind of thing.”

According to election disclosure records released by Elections BC, Vision Vancouver was left with a deficit of $485,420, having spent more than $3.4 million and raising $2.9 million in the 2014 election campaign. 

By comparison, the NPA declared a surplus of $228,000 having raised nearly $2.5 million but spending about $2.1 million. 

The effectiveness of campaign advertising differs per audience and on the budget the party has to spend.

“We don’t have the money to spend like our counterparts do in Vision,” Bremner said. “They probably will spend about a million dollars on robo calls and mail drops and targeted ads and things of this nature but we are doing it the old-fashioned way.”

While trying to be innovative with digital campaigning, the NPA is also mainstreeting.

“We’re spending a lot of time out in the streets getting our signs up out at stadium Chinatown station with our team,” Bremner said.

Vision will publish their advertising budget in their disclosure after the campaign, according to Nixey, not wanting to disclose this information over the phone.

Languages used for advertising range across all party campaigns from English, French, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Punjabi, highlighting the array of audiences and complexity to advertising in Vancouver.


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