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Convention Sponsors: Brands Cast Their Votes—or Not

July 22nd, 2016   ||    by Callie Wheeler

There are fewer convention sponsors this year, and both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions have felt the loss. Because this year’s election candidates are perceived as too polarizing by many businesses, the sponsorship decision has become more sensitive than it has been in years past. As a result, some brands are casting their votes, while others are choosing to completely abstain.

Pick a Side or Stay Out of It

Ahead of this year’s Republican National Convention (RNC), civil rights organization Color of Change worked to pressure corporations to scale back on their sponsorships of Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s convention. According to Fortune, the group’s director counted 19 companies that have reduced their financial support of the RNC. Amid all the controversy, there were still convention sponsors who have historically been a presence. One such example is the American Petroleum Institute, the largest oil and gas trade group.

The Democratic National Convention’s (DNC) losses seem to be a result of companies’ desire to play fair. Retail giant Target declined to give money to either convention, as did Walgreens, UPS, and Ford. According to Bloomberg, Wells Fargo will only be contributing to the Democratic convention, but not the RNC.

Meanwhile, other brands like Facebook, biotech company Amgen, and AT&T are providing services and/or sponsorships to both conventions. According to Adweek, this bipartisan show of support meant Facebook could “facilitate an open dialogue” while avoiding “endorsing any one candidate, issue or party.”

Left out Altogether

Meanwhile, third parties have been left out of the action altogether. Though the Libertarian party had a convention at the end of May and the Green Party’s convention is in August, third parties still don’t attract the same advertising attention as the Republicans and Democrats.

Effect on Advertising

All four conventions garner television coverage; the third parties’ coverage is often limited and locally focused, and the two major conventions dominate national television. Whether the coverage is on national or local TV, though, the lack of convention sponsors doesn’t seem to be impacting the television market.

While reluctant to tie their brands to the conventions themselves, advertisers have not slowed their purchases of slots during the conventions. Fortune reported CNN was 100 percent sold on prime-time slots for the RNC and already sold at about 95 percent for other time slots. Broadcast networks have seen similar ad sales.

Though some have voiced concern at any association, the ad sales are telling a different story.

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