Rep. Bachmann Treats Minnesota Fairgoers to Mobile Attack Ads

Many political campaigns are going mobile this election cycle, using the channel to reach people when they’re at a particular place or doing a particular thing. The latest example aims to appeal to voters while they’re eating corn dogs and knocking back brews at the Minnesota State Fair.


Since Tuesday August 31, the Michele Bachmann for Congress campaign has been targeting ads in mobile apps to people visiting the Minnesota State Fair. “Watch This Video On Tarryl Clark Taxing Your State Fair Foods!” suggests a display ad running throughout Google’s entire network of mobile applications. Clark, a Democrat, is running against the Republican incumbent Bachmann for Minnesota’s 6th District U.S. Congressional seat.

The video is a TV spot centered on an issue of the utmost importance to Minnesotans, it would seem. That is, the cost of their beer and deep fried bacon.

“While you’re at the fair, you should know that Tarryl Clark here voted to raise taxes on your corndog, and your deep fried bacon, and your beer,” says the ad’s announcer, Jim the Election Guy. “So if you see Tarryl Clark while you’re at the fair just ask her what’s up with voting to tax my beer? The ad refers to a vote Clark made to raise sales taxes, which would apply to food items bought in restaurants or from food vendors – including those greasy goodies available at the state fair.

“Once we saw the ad we thought, this would be great to market it to mobile phones at the fair,” said Eric Frenchman, chief Internet strategist at Republican consulting firm Connell Donatelli, which is working with its associate digital firm Campaign Solutions on the Bachmann campaign.

According to Frenchman, on the first day of the campaign, 61 percent of YouTube views of the Bachmann video ad came from iPhones and Android phones in the area around the fair. Frenchman said he purchased all the placements Google made available in its mobile app network, targeting them to people located within a 10 kilometer radius around the fairgrounds in St. Paul.

In addition to pre-roll video ads and YouTube promoted video ads, the campaign also involves display ads in Google’s content network targeted to the 6th district, which is near the fair. The fair-themed ad onslaught will end when the fair does, after Labor Day, September 6.

The campaign hit a speed bump when the Minnesota State Fair complained about the ad displaying its logo earlier this week. The ad has since been changed to remove the official logo, according to Frenchman, who said it had little effect on the online campaign. Because the original YouTube video had to be replaced, the link to it in the mobile and online ads also had to be replaced, which took around ten minutes, he said.

During last week’s Florida primaries, some candidates used mobile ads to target people waiting in line at the polls. The goal was to grab those last-minute undecided voters searching for names of candidates at the bottom of the ballot.

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