Go to any major European city and you’ll find dozens of stickers on road signs, bus stops and billboards. Each with a different message about the politics of a candidate, a political party or just a general pro or anti something message. I believe that in the US the bumper sticker is a more common occurrence, especially during a Presidential election year, but it serves the same purpose.
However, do you ever stop and think whether these stickers ever manage to change someone’s opinion about that specific policy, party or candidate?
Would you change an opinion, held for the majority of your life, just because someone put a sticker on a bus stop sign where you walk by everyday? Probably not.
So what is their use?
I believe that the purpose of a political sticker is three-fold and they are all connected to each other:
- A political sticker in a public place shows brand loyalty. The person putting up the sticker feels involved in spreading whatever message the sticker holds, which increases the loyalty to the political party or cause. This is kind of like when Apple distributes stickers with their products. People into the company or its products want to show their allegiance to Apple and they put up the stickers on their laptops, diaries or on their cars, to show that they are proud to form part of that specific group.
- When people look at these stickers and happen to already support the message found on them, they will internally continue to confirm that their position on this issue is the right one. Someone sees a lot of Apple stickers – on the laptops of friends, maybe on the back of a car, billboards in the street etc – and subconsciously starts to think that he or she did the right choice in buying that latest iPhone. People always feel that they want to be part of something bigger and seeing other people supporting Apple or your favourite political party, helps to keep you engaged.
- Third, political stickers work as the first step in the sales funnel of politics; brand awareness. The Apple marketer knows that you will not buy one of their products the first time you see one of their ads. Case studies have shown that for a person to start to take interest in your product, they need to come across the ad at least seven times. The more one sees an ad, the more one will subconsciously think of the product the next time he needs something similar. In politics, the individual does not need to buy stuff, but the idea works in the same way. This is why political marketers like Topham Guerin use ‘shit posting’ to reach millions of people through silly memes, and which then can be reached with a serious political message. First, they create awareness about the issue and the political party they are promoting, then they reel in those who are interested in the message.
This reminds me of that scene in the movie ‘Focus’ with Will Smith and Margot Robbie, where a well known gambler was primed with the number 55 all day, hidden is everyday events, until they win an outlandish bet against him using the same number.
Do you agree? Do you think political stickers are effective?