Sports fans who enjoy baseball are likely to have followed the World Series matchup between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. The Nationals, a younger team in the MLB formerly known as the Montreal Expos, contested their first fall classic this year much to the delight of Washington, D.C.’s political elite. Statistics show that the World Series viewership has seen a drop-off in recent years. And while this year’s edition was no different—current viewership trends are indicating another drop—what’s catching the attention of some different advertisers is the local audience.
As the 2020 election approaches at breakneck speed, advertising will likely see a turn toward more political-centric messages, and the World Series has now turned into a testing ground for many of these messages. According to data from Axios, advocacy and social responsibility messaging has been more prominent during this World Series than the traditional advertising fodder of cold beer and GoDaddy. Remember, this is the first time that the Washington team has found itself on such a prominent stage. For this reason, advertisers have jumped at the opportunity to reach Capitol Hill leaders with messages that carry urgency surrounding issues that affect the country.
In addition, the World Series has attracted advertisements from a higher number of technology and healthcare ads. Many of these ads also center around some sort of social cause or purpose, with the intent to align the brand with the right message and win over the interest of the public as well as lawmakers who may be tuned in to the game.
What does this mean for the advertising industry? For one, it’s further proof that advertising alignment with social causes and/or politics is becoming a more common practice. As consumers seek out genuine connections with brands while also displaying high levels of mistrust, these brands are countering by involving themselves in social conversation around prominent issues.
Businesses can do more harm than good if the execution of a social advocacy campaign is done incorrectly. Simply jumping on the bandwagon to support a cause for a PR boost won’t do as much for a business as throwing weight behind that support and sticking around for the long haul.
It’s that time in the election cycle in which we’ll begin to see an uptick in the amount of messaging intended to sway our votes come November. The messaging put forth by brands such as 3M, Google and Facebook are just a few examples of what we’re sure to see much more of in the coming months.
The concept of reining in big tech, protecting consumer data and preserving our health as a society will continue to be hot topics of discussion both inside and out of the political arena. The advertisements presented during this year’s World Series may appear to be out of the ordinary, but some may be surprised at just how easily this new idea of messaging has become the norm among advertisers beyond baseball.