Political marketing in an online election environment

Short-term sales or long-term relationships?

Authored by: Nigel A. Jackson , Darren G. Lilleker , Eva Johanna Schweitzer

Routledge Handbook of Political Marketing

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415579933
eBook ISBN: 9780203349908
Adobe ISBN: 9781136597442


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The practical application of both political marketing as a concept and the internet as a campaigning tool share a similar time frame, with both gaining attention in the 1990s. However, apart from a few individual authors (Bowers-Brown and Gunter 2002; Jackson 2006), the two have not been generally pulled together conceptually. Indeed, Coleman (2001) was quite dismissive over the use of the internet in the UK 2001 general election, implying that because it only appeared to have been used for marketing purposes, and not to enhance democracy, that this was a less worthy use. Yet the construction of the so-called Web 2.0 era, which is based on a more interactive, bottom-up approach (O’Reilly 2005), opens up new marketing possibilities. This chapter will seek to assess whether the internet is supporting an essentially sales-based political marketing strategy, or one based on longer-term relations that encourages dialogue and public expressions of opinion. We will do this by considering the relevance of the concept of online political marketing, a child whose parentage is conceptually political marketing and at a campaign level the internet. We will first outline the relevant literature on political marketing and the internet, then introduce our methodology for examining how the internet was used in four elections between 2007 and 2010, covering four different countries: France, the US, Germany and the UK. The main findings are summarized in the conclusion, and discussed with regard to their implications for the current state of online political marketing.

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