Will Bunnett

Politics • Branding • Psychology

Clips

Publications

The Hill: The Democratic Party Must Step Up its Political Branding to Win
By Will Bunnett

The Democratic Party and its vaunted, persistent technology advantage didn’t help them stop Donald Trump and a Republican sweep in 2016. It won’t guarantee any better results moving forward, either…

To create a durable market edge, companies depend on their strategic brand positioning—something unique and values-oriented that no one can do as well as they do. In the past, the Democratic Party proved that concept as well as anyone…

It’s only once a campaign puts that stronger value proposition in place that it can turn to communicating that value through certain channels where it has an advantage, such as digital.
Read full article>>

Campaigns and Elections: How Clinton’s Value Proposition Lost Her the Brand Election
By Will Bunnett

By most professional standards, Hillary Clinton ran a near-perfect campaign. She had a more sophisticated digital operation, rocked the debates, put on an amazing convention, had a comprehensive field program, raised far more money, and ran far more ads. Donald Trump barely even did most of those things, let alone knocked any of them out of the park.

So why is Trump now the president-elect? With all its gaffes, his campaign hardly conducted a master class in branding, and he did lose the nationwide vote by roughly 2.5 million. His biggest risk was Republican voters sitting the election out after his seemingly dozens of horrible campaign moments.

But in the end, Clinton’s brand wasn’t strong enough in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin to protect her from last-minute doubts raised by FBI Director James Comey. And Trump positioned his brand just well enough that when Clinton showed weakness in a couple of key states, the enthusiasm among his core supporters put him over the top.
Read full article>>

Campaigns and Elections: A Blueprint for a Smart Digital Rollout
By Will Bunnett

A campaign launch should create a memorable connection between candidate and audience while leveraging that attention to build long-term capacity. That’s why a strong digital strategy is essential for any campaign kickoff.

In fact, digital is a powerful way to boost brand recall. That’s part of the reason why digital played such a dominant role in Hillary Clinton’s campaign rollout in June—a launch which holds some clear lessons for down-ballot efforts. The benefits of a digital campaign rollout, such as driving email signups, donations and social media engagement, aren’t confined to top-of-the-ticket candidates.

In a smaller contest, you can produce smart rollouts using an integrated digital strategy if you plan accordingly. Here are some things to think about in the planning process.
Read full article>>

Campaigns and Elections: What Really Worked in 2014?
By Will Bunnett

If the 2008 election represented the birth of broad digital organizing, it looked like digital might grow up in 2014, but what we actually saw was an awkward teenager reaching some new heights while clumsily knocking things over.

Here’s what worked in digital in 2014—and what didn’t.

WORKED
Facebook ads amplifying emails
Most political advertising online relies on so-called “last click attribution” to measure effectiveness: somebody saw the ad and clicked to the website, so did they take an action or not? But commercial marketers long ago moved beyond simple last-click models. This cycle we learned that political marketers must, too. My employer, Trilogy Interactive, partnered with Facebook on a study that showed supporters who receive fundraising emails and ads simultaneously contributed 67 percent more via email.
Read full article>>

The Hill: Democratic political brands fall into a common business trap
By Will Bunnett

Spending on TV ads in this election is predicted to top $1 billion for the first time in a mid-term, according to the Wesleyan Media Project. Apple, the world’s biggest brand, spent about $350 million advertising phones last year.

So why does everyone love their iPhone but hate their member of Congress? Do you think Apple would put up with a 14 percent positive rating like Congress has?

To put it bluntly, there’s too much money in campaigns now not to take rigorous advantage of the best thinking in commercial branding…
Read full article>>

epolitics: How Twitter DIDN’T Predict the Iowa Caucus Outcome
By Will Bunnett and Steve Olson

With all the excitement around the Iowa caucuses in New Media Land, you could be forgiven for thinking the biggest contest of the night was seeing who could most convincingly predict the results on Twitter and Facebook. As Mashable asked, “Did Twitter Predict the Iowa Caucus Better Than Pundits?”

After looking at several models, the answer is, unfortunately, no.
Read full article>>

Appearances

Direct Marketing News:

Special Guest: Will Bunnett, Clarify Agency principal and former senior email writer and producer in 2008 at Obama for America, discusses the current state of email marketing in the 2016 Presidential campaign, the importance of taking advantage of external events, and the story behind one of the Obama campaign’s most successful emails.
Listen to podcast>>

Citations

POLITICO:

Still, the five-alarm fire approach isn’t without skeptics, even among Democrats. Some party activists worry the tone and frequency of the messages will have a “boy who cries wolf” effect, desensitizing donors over the long haul and ultimately making them less willing to pony up. “There’s a risk that people … will disengage,” said Will Bunnett, a member of Obama’s 2008 email team who now manages online campaigns for the communications firm Trilogy Interactive.
Read full article>>

National Journal:

Perhaps as important, according to Will Bunnett, who worked on the online team of President Obama’s 2008 campaign and is now a digital strategist at Trilogy Interactive, is that small donors often become the foundation of a campaign’s volunteer team.

“Once they’ve actually plunked down some of their own money, they’re much more likely to come out and knock on some doors and make some phone calls,” Bunnett said.
Read full article>>

Digiday:

Will Bunnett, a senior strategist at Trilogy Interactive, and a former producer at Obama for America, said that in spite of these problems, Republicans have a successful niche brand at the moment — the base isn’t going anywhere. So they need to find a way to convince new voters that the Republican brand is relevant to them. That’s going to be hard to do without a strong, visible leader.

“It’s very similar to the branding problem Apple had in the early ’90s, when it had a small, devoted following, but its brand didn’t seem relevant to most PC users,” Bunnett said. “Apple fixed its brand problem with innovative products and design. But without a Steve Jobs-like leader, Republicans will have a hard time innovating.”
Read full article >>

Huffington Post:

Will Bunnett, who was a senior e-mail writer and producer on the Obama for America campaign and the overseer of the Fight the Smears microsite, advises Democrats in a “working-paper” memo to engage their detractors rather than sit idly by.

“The number one rule of smear fighting is don’t let a bad narrative about your candidate settle in. Because the anxiety a smear creates leads people to seek information, you have a window to make sure some of what they receive counters the smear.”
Read full article >>