While most of the world still comes to grips with Donald Trump’s surprising election win on November 8th, a few savvy brands are taking advantage of the U.S. election to craft creative ads that play off of the more controversial elements of Trump’s campaign.
As a general rule, brands are discouraged from getting mixed up in politics for fear of alienating certain consumers, but in some cases it can prove to be a bold marketing tactic that can pay off in terms of increased social engagement, content going viral and third-party media coverage. The trick is to choose positions that you know the vast majority of your target audience will support and craft a positive message that they can buy into. Injecting a bit of humour always helps too!
1) Air Canada:
The highly polarising nature of Donald Trump’s campaign led to a significant increase in Americans googling “how to move to Canada”. Air Canada tapped into this phenomenon by launching a campaign near the end of the primaries encouraging would-be emigrants to “test drive” Canada first by flying in for a holiday.
To add some extra star power, Air Canada also replied with a personalized video to celebrities like Lena Dunham, Raven-Symoné and Ariel Winter who had tweeted that they would move to Canada if Trump won.
— Air Canada (@AirCanada) June 8, 2016
- Why it worked: It tapped into a highly publicised trend (Americans threatening to move to Canada), commiserated with Americans who were upset about the political situation in their country and provided them with a useful piece of advice. The best part is the brand didn’t even have to take a political stance – it just had to empathise with how people were feeling.
Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was one of the most controversial parts of his platform. Mexican beer maker, Tecate, took aim at this by producing a video ad where they propose building a Tecate Beer Wall instead. Their knee-high wall isn’t meant to keep Americans and Mexicans apart, but is rather a meeting place where people from both sides can come together, have a chat and enjoy a beer.
- Why it worked: It promoted mutual understanding and open communication over barriers and division, while also slyly positioning beer as the solution to cross-border tensions in the way that only a beer commercial can.
3) Royal Jordanian Airlines:
— Royal Jordanian (@RoyalJordanian) November 8, 2016
Also among Trump’s most controversial pledges was his call for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. For Jordan’s national airline, it was an opportunity to encourage their customers (most of whom are Muslim) to travel to the U.S. now while they still can.
- Why it worked: Since Trump’s Muslim travel ban was unlikely to be implemented, due both to his trailing poll numbers and to the sheer infeasibility of screening travellers based on religion,
it came to be seen as more of a joke than a serious threat. Royal Jordanian picked up on this and used it to craft a topical call-to-action tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Trump not only wanted to build a wall along the border, he also wanted Mexico to pay for it. Mexicans, understandably, weren’t too keen about this.
In response, Mexicali-based craft beer brand, Cucapá, devised an ingenious viral marketing scheme to build a wall of beer instead and get Trump supporters to pay for it. They sold t-shirts on the streets of Los Angeles to Trump supporters that contained a special dye, which would change the pro-Trump message into a derogatory Spanish phrase when exposed to heat.
- Why it worked: It was a very clever plan that allowed Mexicans to feel like they were getting some comedic revenge on Donald Trump.
Unlike the other brands, which relied on humour and levity, Aeroméxico struck a much more sombre and serious tone. The brand made an emotional pitch to consumers where it denounced the borders – both physical and invisible – that divide and separate us and committed to using air travel to help bring mankind closer together.
- Why it worked: It was more cri de cœur, than advertisement. It expressed the brand’s beliefs, values and mission in a really heartfelt way and at a time when they are more relevant than ever. It was a rare move for a company to make, but that made it all the more impactful.
360Fly’s campaign is interesting because their product and brand have no direct relation to Trump or any of his policies, yet theirs is the most overtly Trump-themed ad. The video shows a parodied version of a future President Trump introducing his newly built border wall and boasting about how effective it will be at keeping Mexicans out. While he is speaking, Mexicans of all types are coming under and over the wall in a variety of ways, clearly demonstrating its ineffectiveness. The ad’s tagline of “get a broader perspective” highlights their drone camera’s ability to capture 360-degree video.
- Why it worked: The video is extremely well done, makes ample use of humour and ties in with their product in a cheeky way. However, their critical parody of Trump may not be well received by his supporters. 360Fly is probably banking on that most of their potential customers are not Trump supporters.
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