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Ron Paul Print Advertising on a Blimp

A giant flying billboard bearing no political message may prove to be the most effective advertising campaign of this election season.

Print advertising was taken to a new level – roughly level with the clouds – this week by a for-profit company called Liberty Political Advertising. Liberty is working on a project known as the “Ron Paul Blimp.” The Blimp will fly over major cities for the next month, sporting massive Ron Paul advertising intended to get the word out about the blogosphere's favorite Presidential Primary candidate.

The blimp is being described as roughly equivalent to a gigantic, flying billboard, and will cost approximately $350, 000 a month to keep in the air. How is the Ron Paul campaign affording this? They're not.

The blimp may be one of the biggest advertising stunts in election campaign history, but it's not being funded by a campaign. Liberty Political Advertising is basically selling the opportunity for Ron Paul supporters to sponsor advertising time on the blimp. In the future, they plan to organize similar stunts for other candidates – funded by supporters, unrelated to the official campaigns themselves.

This strategy allows Liberty to get around the funding and legal restrictions imposed on PACs and other non-profits by the FEC. It's a tricky bit of legal mumbo-jumbo, but if it works, it could change the face of election campaigning forever.

The supporter-funded, campaign-unrelated blimp is a much larger version of something I've been talking about throughout this election season. That is, campaigning independently in support of your favorite candidate. Because full color poster and flyer printing is so inexpensive, anyone can run their own mini print campaign – and for a whole lot less than $350, 000. The Ron Paul blimp is a super-sized version of this do-it-yourself political project.

And that's not even the coolest thing about it.

The coolest, coolest thing about the Ron Paul blimp is the copy design used by Liberty Political Advertising. One side of the blimp is slated to say, “Who is Ron Paul? Google Ron Paul.” The other side will be emblazoned with the classic Ron Paul political print design: “Ron Paul Revolution.”

The most striking thing about this design choice is, of course, that it makes no mention of elections or politics. It just asks a question that will hopefully pique the interest of those who have never before heard of Ron Paul.

“We specifically left off any reference to an election, because most people do not care about politics,” the blimp website states. “We want to bring them back into the electoral process, and messages like the ones chosen – distinctly different than the same old boring way of advertising candidates — will do that.”

This choice to conceal the motivation behind the message smacks of viral marketing – a popular tactic that hasn't been heavily employed by campaigns during this election season. But maybe the Ron Paul blimp is set to change all that.

Sending a political message that doesn't immediately appear political may just be the perfect way to penetrate voter apathy. But are campaigns prepared to take that risk? Perhaps as we see an upsurge of campaigning by independent candidate supporters, tried and true methodologies (read: safe!) will begin to give way to innovative advertising techniques.

One thing's for sure, if this blimp proves a success, the team over at Liberty will have no trouble finding jobs come next election season!


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