This week, Mike Bloomberg dropped out of the race to become the Democratic nominee but not before spending well over $500 million dollars on his campaign. To put this into perspective– in just a few short months, Bloomberg had aired more than twice as many ads than Trump did in the entirety of his 2016 campaign. Fortunately for Mike, whose net worth is estimated to be around $65 billion, half a billion is just a drop in the bucket.
So, with more funds behind his campaign than any other candidate ever before, why didn’t Bloomberg see more success? From a marketing perspective, there are several missteps his campaign made. Here’s what we can learn from it:
Lesson 1: Real success cannot be bought.
Money alone does not lead to a successful marketing strategy. Branding trumps budget every time, and Bloomberg had some serious branding issues. Instead of addressing these issues, it seems that Bloomberg relied on his wallet rather than an effective brand refresh to carry him through.
Lesson 2: Mediocre messaging isn’t going to cut it.
When you look at Bloomberg’s campaign as a whole, there are some marketing wins. Who among us hasn’t been saturated with the “Mike will get it done” ads that seem to seep into our subconscious minds? However, subpar ads, even as many as Bloomberg ran, isn’t enough to win over a base.
Lesson 3: Casting a wide net with little targeting is so 2004.
The reason digital marketing is so effective is because of its targeting capabilities. It seems like a no-brainer for presidential nominees to run their ads to people who can actually vote; however, Bloomberg’s ads seemed to have the most positive effect on an unexpected demographic– those who can’t vote yet! With YouTube ads running during videos most watched by a younger 7-17 age group, it seems that there wasn’t enough thought put into targeting his campaign’s efforts.
Lesson 4: Align yourself with reputable marketing firms.
Bloomberg’s campaign enlisted the help of Jerry Media, the controversial media company behind the disastrous Fyre Festival. The influencer marketing company was hired to post ads across Instagram. Their strategy, while mildly humorous, poked fun at Bloomberg’s desire to be the “cool candidate” and fell flat with most politically engaged users.
All in all, it seems that while money can buy a serious campaign, it can’t buy a successful one.