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Candidates Blast their Files with Email Sweeps


By Ken Magill

Email clearly has given teams Mitt Romney and Barack Obama the power to leverage fundraiser sweepstakes like no other channel before it.

A direct marketing tenet holds that if you want to know what’s working for a rival, observe what they do repeatedly because repetition indicates success.

Well, both the Obama and Romney camps are hammering their files with chances to win personal meetings with them and other famous people.

The Romney camp sent its first sweepstakes email on Sept 22 offering the chance to win “a day on the road with Mitt.” Romney’s team has sent at least 17 such emails since.

The Obama camp began sending sweepstakes-fundraiser emails last June, blasting six messages over a seven-day period in an attempt to beat a June 30 deadline.

In the last 11 months, Obama’s fundraising team has sent more than 50 sweepstakes emails.

The sweeps have included chances to win dinner with Obama and the First Lady, and chances to meet actors Sarah Jessica Parker and George Clooney, among other famous folks.

The Obama camp has sent so many sweeps emails that they addressed the volume issue in a message last week:

“If you're wondering why we have so many contests to meet President Obama, I'll be honest,” the message from Obama for America chief operating officer Ann Marie Habershaw said.

“Yeah, it's partly because they're really popular.

“But it's also because we don't accept any money from Washington lobbyists or corporate-interest groups -- not a dime. We don't want them owning any piece of this campaign or expecting any special consideration.”

The email included two calls to action: One to enter to win a chance to meet Obama with former President Bill Clinton and one to meet Obama and Sarah Jessica Parker.

“Of course, you can always enter both,” the email said.

Refreshingly, when lawmakers crafted the rules for sweepstakes—unlike the Can Spam Act—they apparently didn’t exempt themselves from the rules by which lowly commercial email marketers must live.

Both camps’ footers contain disclaimers explaining donations aren’t necessary in order to win.

On a personal note, Obama’s sweepstakes pitch offering a chance to meet him and Clinton brought back a fun memory.

I’ve already met Bill Clinton.

Ironically, there’s a photo of Clinton and I smiling and shaking hands at an InfoUSA event put on by Clinton backer and former InfoUSA—now called InfoGroup—president Vin Gupta in 2003.

I say “ironically” because Clinton was not my favorite president—not at all, though I like him better in hindsight.

One of my favorite presidents was Calvin Coolidge. Why? Because he famously kept his yap shut and took naps. All presidents should keep their yaps shut and take naps. Hell, all politicians should keep their yaps shut and take naps. They should go golfing, take swims, play tennis … train for triathlons.

They should go on long junkets to faraway places—preferably other planets.

So the chance to meet Clinton wasn’t the fun memory. However, after seeing him speak in person in a relatively small venue, I understood what others saw. The guy was electric.

No, what was fun was the family Christmas card we had printed using the Magill/Clinton photo.

The front displayed the photo with the caption: “Peace on Earth?”

On the inside, the card said: “Hey, if these two guys can shake hands without exploding, anything is possible.”

I was tempted to enter the Obama/Clinton sweepstakes just for the chance at a photo update. But in the 2003 original I’m thinner and have all my teeth.

I think I’ll pass.


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