Print Politics

Election Campaign Political Printing: Great Examples of Good Ideas

You might be running a small campaign, but you can still use the same techniques as the big shots!

Campaigning under a small budget? That doesn't mean your political printing can't have a big impact. With full color printing less expensive than ever, and increasing numbers of enthusiastic supporters participating in the election process, the only thing restraining the visibility of your campaign is imagination.

But that's not fair! It can be hard to be creative under pressure. That's why I've gathered together some of the more creative political printing ideas on display during recent legs of the primary elections campaign. Hope they inspire or at least get you thinking, “oh please! I can do better than that!”

When embarking on a full color printing project, the first thing to consider is print design. Remember that you don't have to adhere to the same old cheesy campaign sign tactics. The below campaign signs were used by the Obama camp in New York, and are a great example of how stylish campaign posters can actually be!

Notice how the designers didn't settle for a conventional grinning mugshot of Obama, instead opting for a stylized profile rendering. This is another illustration of the Obama camp's skill at branding their candidate, and creating a genuinely engaging product.

Obama in NYC

A picture like this is worth a thousand words, but sometimes, just one, really well-chosen, well-presented word can do the trick just as effectively. Don't forget that good copy is an essential part of design, even when you've got full color printing on your side.

Check out Ron Paul supporters' fantastic use of the word “Revolution” on this piece of campaign signage. Juxtaposing the edginess of the term 'revolution' with the softness of the word 'love' found within it creates the perfect tone for Paul's radical underdog campaign.

Ron Paul Revolution Poster

The Ron Paul campaign is a good one to watch for inspiration because of the enormous amount of very creative grassroots support it is receiving. If someone were to take these homemade signs, clean them up a little bit with the expertise of a professional graphic designer, and have them printed en masse, this campaign could take on the appearance of a truly serious contender.

But let's say the design phase is over and done with, and you, as an organizer or supporter, have to work with the political printing already on hand. I was impressed, recently, by supporters of Bill Richardson, who put conventional signage to use in unconventional ways.

Bill Richardson Sign Stacking

One classic by always powerful strategy is to stack signs 3 – 5 high on sign poles so that supporters can hoist many at a time. As you can see from the above image, sign stacking can create the impression that a candidate's support is exponentially what it may be in reality. No matter how many supporters you have, this is always a good thing. Voters are strongly influenced by the amount of support they see for a candidate in their community.

Another tactic employed by the Richardson campaign is to wallpaper the sides of vehicles in campaign signs. This might not be as fancy as a vehicle wrap, but it does represent a down-home, folksy enthusiasm that has its own appeal.

Bill Richardson pickup truck postering

Bill Richardson semi truck postering

As you can see above, organizers are working with very basic units of political printing, but the overall impact isn't boring at all. It speaks of very genuine, positive voter enthusiasm, and it absolutely sends the right message for the Richardson campaign.

This strategy stands in stark contrast to the vehicle wrapping being used by John McCain's campaign. If you'll recall, the McCain campaign started out using a very dark, militaristic style, then changed courses abruptly, layering a riot of full color printing onto the same severe design, as we saw in the case of the little loved 'Straight Talk Express.' Maybe they were trying to promote McCain's friendlier side, but the result was that that campaign tanked massively.

Looking at McCain's vehicle wrapping today, a marked difference is apparent. The newly christened “No Surrender” bus takes us back to the severe coloring that inaugurated McCain's bid for the Presidential nomination. I have no doubt that it would be a pretty scary sight barreling down the highway in my direction.

No Surrender McCain Bus

The difference between the vehicle advertising done by the Richardson campaign and by the McCain campaign is enormous, but they both pack a similar punch. The key is to figure out what works for your candidate and for your budget. Just because you can't pull off a flashy vehicle wrap, it doesn't mean you can't connect with voters using inexpensive, full color printing.

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