Election-based marketing campaigns are tricky (and sometimes dangerous), which is why most food and beverage brands steer clear of presidential endorsements of any kind – even if the campaign supports both candidates equally.
That hasn’t stopped 7-Eleven from rolling out its popular 7-Election campaign in 33 states nationwide. The promotion, which kicked off last week, lets customers “vote” by purchasing coffee in either a red Romney cup or a blue Obama cup. Regular cups are available for coffee drinkers who are undecided or a little shy about touting their affiliation.
Sales of each cup are tracked in real-time, and customers can visit the 7-Election website to view results, which are updated daily. Tallies by state, and even for many metropolitan areas, are also available. As of this morning, President Obama held a commanding 58-42 percent lead nationally, including a win in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts.
The Democratic lead is bad news for Romney fans, because the store’s campaign has been remarkably accurate – within one percentage point – in predicting American voting habits in the 2000, 2004 and 2008 elections.
To energize voters, several new features have been added to the 2012 effort, including the chain’s second annual CofFREE Day on Friday, September 28 (held for the first time during the 7-Election campaign). “Voters” can stop by participating locations between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. for a free cup of joe and a free vote.
To prove that it doesn’t take its admittedly unscientific poll too seriously, 7-Eleven has partnered with the award-winning satirical news organization The Onion to help get out the vote (see video below). And the convenience store has created a slightly smaller-scale replica of the Oval Office, which will travel the nation via the “Mobile Oval” bus. The tour will make campaign stops throughout October, offering free coffee, coupons and photos from a Mobile Oval featuring your favorite candidate.
Of course, 7-Eleven isn’t the only brand to dabble in election marketing. Maker’s Mark bourbon and Boston Market among many others, have also thrown their hats into the ring. We’ll take a closer look at their platforms in a future blog entry. For now, we’re off to the polls to get our own “steaming hot cup of democracy.”
MARKETING LESSON: When it comes to risky election-based marketing campaigns, the simpler the better. And it doesn’t get any simpler than a cup of coffee.