Dec 2, 2019

Trump, the marketer in chief

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Impeachment is bringing out President Trump's instincts as marketer in chief, as he seeks to turn a perilous, shame-inducing inquiry into an aggressive fundraising and mobilization tool.

Why it matters: Democrats competing for the chance to challenge Trump in the general election are getting a preview of how he may seek to upend and monetize their arguments against him.

The big picture: From merchandise to rally rhetoric to paid media strategy, a campaign official tells Axios that a lot of the ideas for responses are being generated by Trump himself.

  • His nearly three years on the job have helped him become an expert in framing his own missteps to his advantage.
  • While half the country already supported impeaching Trump and removing him from office, recent polling for CNN shows Democrats weren't able to expand that to a clearer majority after two weeks of public impeachment hearings. His backers see that as evidence that his counter-messaging has helped hold the line.

Merchandise: Recent additions to the Trump campaign's merchandise store include "Bull-Schiff" t-shirts demonizing House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, and "Where's Hunter?" t-shirts mocking former Vice President Joe Biden's son.

  • Sources close to Trump's re-election campaign say the recent impeachment-focused merchandise has sold well and given the team an added bonus of tracking additional data about Trump supporters.

Facebook: The Trump campaign has been blitzing Facebook with ads urging supporters to "sign up" to fight impeachment.

  • The Trump campaign alone has spent nearly $2 million on impeachment ads on Facebook since Sept. 28, according to data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

TV: Republicans have spent $6.8 million on impeachment ads on television since Oct. 1, while Democrats have collectively spent $4.7 million, per Advertising Analytics.

  • Trump will air a reelection ad on Fox [Corrected] during the 2020 Super Bowl, per two sources familiar with the ad buy.
  • His campaign declined to comment on whether it would invest in further sports ads, but it made a similar ad buy during Game 7 of the this year's World Series.

Rallies: Trump has railed against impeachment at his rallies in the weeks since Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry.

The bottom line: This is classic Trump. He's continuing to upend traditional norms — and his base loves it.

Go deeper: The Trump show: a new drama

Go deeper

How Trump wins in 2020

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's re-election campaign wields more money, staff, infrastructure and advanced digital operations than the Democratic competitors — and a fan base that hears "impeachment" as a rallying cry.

Driving the news: Over a 90-minute PowerPoint session at a hotel in Arlington, Va., on Thursday, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign manager Brad Parscale and other senior Trump campaign officials presented dozens of national political reporters their theory of how Trump can win again in 2020.

Go deeperArrowDec 14, 2019

Rivals distance themselves from Facebook on political ads

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat all made new announcements this week adjusting their political ad policies, placing themselves on a broad spectrum from anything goes to a near-total ban.

Why it matters: Many social media companies are using the ongoing political ad debate to distance themselves from Facebook, which has received the most criticism for its policies. Facebook's rules are the least restrictive amongst the group, because the tech giant believes that the government should regulate political ads, not private companies.

Go deeperArrowNov 21, 2019

Trump and Buttigieg battle for young voters with Snapchat ads

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg and President Trump are going head to head in Snapchat ad spend, according to data pulled from Snapchat's public ads library provided by social analytics company Storyful.

Why it matters: While the spend on Snapchat is dwarfed by the millions spent by Democratic candidates on Facebook and Google ads, the data provides an insight into how candidates are targeting young and first-time voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019