Snap7Over on the Huffington Post a few weeks ago Patrick Ruffini declared 2012 the Groupon Election.  Patrick’s basic premise is that due to campaigns’ increasingly sophisticated use of analytics, email asks and online promotions have come to resemble those run by companies such as Groupon.   The long winded campaign updates of 2008 have been replaced by  the “flash sales at the campaign store, sweepstakes, and urgent deadlines”  of 2012.  I think Patrick is dead on, and would encourage you to read his full piece

The slew of sweepstakes being run by the Obama campaign are the most obvious example of the trend Patrick identifies.  The concept is pretty simple.  Supporters are asked either to give for the chance to win a meeting with Obama and/or a celebrity supporter.  A deadline is set.  Emails are sent out.  A winner is announced.  Money is counted.

This tactic is obviously working, as the Obama campaign keeps going back to this particular well.  So far sweepstakes have been run with Bill Clinton,  George Clooney, Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé Knowles and Jay-Z.  In addition to the celebrity-oriented stuff, the campaign has also run periodic chances to win a dinner with President Obama himself.  The Romney campaign is using the exact same tactic. Just today they launched an “On Board with Mitt” sweepstakes where supporters can enter to win a flight on the campaign plane. 

I’ve catalogued the various sweepstakes I’m aware of at the end of this email.  I’m positive I’ve missed some.

I have mixed feelings about the “Groupon Election” and these various sweepstakes.

As someone who works in the online communication field, I find what the campaigns are doing in 2012 exciting and smart. These promotions work, and I would be stupid not to incorporate some “Groupon Election” tactics into my own work.

As a citizen that is increasingly frustrated by politics and politicians, I find the development a bit depressing.  The appeals I’m getting in my inbox from all sides feel increasingly superficial and small. 

I think all the 2012 political campaigns could learn a bit from charity: water, whose September Campaign manages to use the same basic tactics while not neglecting a key ingredient: inspiration.


George Clooney – April 2012


Bill Clinton – May 2012


Sarah Jessica Parker – June 2012

Michelle Obama


Jay Z and Beyoncé Knowles – September 2012


Dinner with Barack


Fly with Mitt – September 2012


About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.