The Air War versus The Ground Game: An Analysis of Multi-Channel Marketing in U.S. Presidential Elections
Firms increasingly use both mass-media advertising and targeted personal selling to successfully promote products and brands in the marketplace. In this study, we jointly examine the effect of mass-media advertising and personal selling in the context of U.S. presidential elections, where the former is referred to as the "air war" and the latter the "ground game." Specifically, we look at how different types of advertising―candidates' own ads vs. outside ads―and personal selling―in the form of utilizing field offices―affect voter preferences. Further, we ask how these various campaign activities affect the outcome of elections through their diverse effects on various types of people. We find that personal selling has a stronger effect among partisan voters, while candidates' own advertising is better received by non-partisans. We also find that personal selling accounted for the Democratic victories in the 2008 and 2012 elections and that advertising was critical only in a close election, such as the one in 2004. Interestingly, had the Democrats received more outside advertising in 2004, the election would have ended up in a 269–269 tie. Our findings generate insights on how to allocate resources across and within channels.
Keywords: Personal selling;