So, today is decision day for America (well for those who did not vote early in record numbers) At risk of understatement, it has been an election campaign like no other.
But who will trump the advertising debacle?
Interestingly, Donald Trump relied on his own force of personality, media coverage and a social media army to get his message across and spent comparatively little on paid for advertising until the end of the campaign. In comparison, Hillary Clinton clocked up a mind-numbing $1bn with Trump spending only 50% of that.
It makes the British electoral campaigns seem slightly modest. In the 2015 General Election, all political parties spent a total of only £31m which is just 2.5% of that spent in the US presidential vote. The idea of the state funding political parties is wholly wrong to me and the bloated US spend, by candidates and supporters, is actually an excellent argument for retaining our expenditure cap and funding model.
So, on a dollar for dollar basis, given that the presidential race has come down to the wire with only a few percentage points between the two candidates, clearly Trump has achieved the highest ROI.
It has been estimated that over 300,000 different ads were created for the campaign so it would be rather time consuming to try and review all of these so I thought it would be helpful to compare each candidate's final salvo that went on air nationally today.
First out of the blocks was Hillary Clinton who, as part of her ‘get out to vote’ charm offensive, had recruited a number of celebrities to add their voice to hers. Her one minute 'I’m voting for a president' spot features Katy Perry’s 'Roar' juxtaposed with members of the electorate and such inspired supers as 'I’m voting for respect.'
Somewhere, almost lost in the mix, is her campaign slogan “stronger together” which is just the sort of anodyne statement one can imagine Ed Milliband campaigning under. It does have the benefit of being a broadly positive ad, with only one 'Love Trumps Hate' reference, and features a catchy tune, but is broadly disconnected from the themes of the rest of her campaign.
In the blue corner Trump has come out with a two minute ad featuring a speech cut with seemingly the same voters as Hillary’s. Unfortunately, the extra time is wasted as it could do with some significant editing and ends up being a tad boring. This is a shame as the one thing Trump is not is boring – boorish yes, but not boring.
As the challenger and ‘change’ candidate his message is of course negative and attacking, with lots of visual references to Hillary, Bill, and Hillary and Bill whilst his voice-over references “the corrupt political elite who have bled our country dry”. Subtle it is not.
Unfortunately, given the level of spend, neither ad hits the spot creatively and, in my view, will not change the result of the election as they only reconfirm what people already think of each candidate, compared to say the John Major spot in 1992 where you got a fresh view of Major the man, his background and political outlook. As you may recall, to almost universal surprise, he won that election.
I believe, when we wake up tomorrow, Hillary will have won by a bigger margin than people expect. Trump’s ‘silent majority’ will not deliver him the last minute “Brexit times 10” victory that he is now pinning his hopes on. The latest polls show a Hillary lead, which I predict will be increased by the undecided voter choosing the status quo that she represents rather than Trump’s ranks of the disenchanted.
As readers may recall, I forecast the Brexit result within 0.1% as pollsters and other pundits mistakenly thought the status quo in the referendum was to remain in the EU. However, for the British public the status quo was British independence as they had never voted to join the EU.
Hillary represents the status quo and whilst Trump has successfully shed light on how many people are dissatisfied with it, his efforts won’t get him into the White House. I think he will struggle to get to 42% of the vote. Which only begs the question – what would have happened if a decent anti-establishment candidate had stood for election?
Michael Moszynski is chief executive officer and founder of London Advertising.