Election Recap: How Brands Counted Your Vote Through Humor, Coffee and Pepperoni

7-Eleven embraced the political season to sell donuts and coffee — without alienating any customers.

If the country is even as half as polarized as the pollsters would have you believe, some of you are ecstatic today and some of you are extremely depressed about the 2012 presidential election results. Making 50 percent of your customer base upset or angry is never a desirable marketing goal, which is why you’ll rarely see politics infused into brand advertising.

However, timing is still everything and there is enormous wisdom in trying to become part of the water cooler conversation that’s naturally happening at any given moment. Here’s how five brands cleverly inserted themselves into the political dialogue this year without alienating any customers:

7-Eleven coffee drinkers preferred Barack Obama in the 7-Election.

1. 7-Eleven — The moment customers walked in the door at 7-Eleven convenience stores, they were hit with retro political-style signage for specials of the week. The above mini-donut ad makes a compelling pitch that “Your Decision” for snacks is just as vital as the choice you make for the next Leader of the Free World.

Perhaps 7-Eleven’s most famous election-themed promotion is its “voting” coffee cup. For the past few elections, customers could choose a cup with the names of the Democratic and Republican nominees. The math is simple. The candidate with the most coffee cups sold wins the 7-Election.

The Barack Obama Coffee Cup just beat out the Mitt Romney Coffee Cup by a 59-41 percent margin (Check out how the coffee cup election broke down in your state!)

In addition, the convenience store chain also introduced a Purple for the People Vanilla Slurpee, making the not-so-subtle point that Americans should not view themselves as being from “Red States” or “Blue States,” but rather one blended nation. And in a special online coupon, Doritos were presented as the Slurpee’s perfect “running mate.”

2. JetBlue — It’s called “Election Protection” and it’s the quirky airline’s pledge to give away 1,006 roundtrip tickets (equal to 2012 seats) to disgruntled voters whose candidates didn’t win. JetBlue is gently poking fun at the usually unfulfilled threat to move out of the country if so-and-so candidate wins. On the official Election Protection Map, both Democrats and Republicans said they’d prefer to flee to the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Turks & Caicos, St. Maarten and Grand Cayman — naturally, all JetBlue destinations.

Maxine for President — Hallmark’s senior citizen character tells it like it is, making fun of all sides of the political landscape and life in general.

3. Hallmark — As the greeting card company’s “self-appointed Queen of Crabbiness,” Maxine makes the ultimate presidential candidate for voters fed up with the entire system. Fans could purchase “Maxine for President” bumper stickers and political buttons in the same display racks as her greeting cards.  Mirroring traditional candidates, she also chronicled her positions on an official campaign blog.

Pizza Hut tried to infuse itself — and some humor — into the Obama-Romney debates.

4. Pizza Hut — President Bill Clinton was once infamously asked by an MTV reporter if he preferred boxers or briefs, and since then the underwear question has morphed into even sillier arenas. This fall, Pizza Hut offered to reward a free pizza every week for the next 30 years to any voter who asked President Obama or Mitt Romney whether they preferred sausage or pepperoni during their town hall style debate at the University of Miami.

Although a barrage of criticism convinced Pizza Hut to back off from the bounty offer, some PR experts believe that the publicity stunt was a brilliant move.

Barilla Pasta rebuilds the White House in its own image.

5. Barilla — Pasta companies usually stay out of the political fray, unless something unimaginable happens like a trade embargo on Italy. Barilla had a bit of fun with its Facebook fan base on Election Day by imagining 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in the form of ziti and linguine. As one fan noted, there’s nothing to fight about when it comes to yummy pasta!

(Pongr helps brands bond with their fans over special events and moments, whether it be election season, a concert series or the Super Bowl. Learn more about how the Pongr Photo Marketing platform can work for you).

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