Although we are in the 21st century, the era of technology, Direct Mail Ads are coming back.

Not only are they coming back, people trust direct mail the most: “56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing” (Carlyle, 2015).

Independent Voters

Of course, political campaigns have jumped on this trend with a specific goal in mind, to target independent voters. But why independent voters?

Well, campaigns do not want to put extra marketing and money into the decided voters, they want to attract the voters who have not made up their minds. They want to persuade the undecided. As of 2015, there are significantly more independent voters than there are Democrats or Republicans. According to Gallup,

“42% [of U.S. citizens] identify as independents, 29% as Democrats, 26% as Republicans” (Jones, 2016).

Thus, the market audience for political ads is independent voters.

However, in order to persuade the independent voter to lean one way, there is a need for different approaches. The two most commonly used approaches are positive and negative political mail ads. Positive political ads are the ones intended to make constituents want to vote for the individual sponsoring the ad. Negative political ads are the ones intended to make constituents NOT want to vote for the opposing candidate of the individual sponsoring the ad, which persuades the voter to choose the individual who is not being poorly represented.

Each of these approaches needs specific elements in order to appeal to independent voters. Based upon our company’s research, we have found some necessary patterns that campaigns must take if they want to persuade the undecided voters via direct mail.

Positive Political Ads Should Have:

  • Bright Colors
    • Makes the candidate seem more honest and virtuous
  • Enlarged Candidate’s Name
    • Helps correlate the positivity from the ad with the candidate’s name

Negative Political Ads Should Have:

  • Dark Colors
    • Black & White serves as an effective way to express negativity
    • Dark Colors reinforces the negativity correlated with the political opponent
  • Images of opposing candidate should look gloomy, pessimistic, and negative
    • Refrain from using pictures of the candidate smiling

According to our research, positive ads seem refreshing compared to the harsh, negative ads that they are used to seeing in the media. Positive ads also may be considered more credible than negative ads. Regardless of what type of ad campaigns you choose to use, they should all include enlarged key words, to catch the eye of the reader. Also, taglines should be clear and succinct to increase comprehension of ads. Lastly, they should include buzzwords to trigger engagement (e.g. taxes, welfare, terrorism, education).

“Independent voters will likely not engage with large sections of text until emotionally compelled to do so.” – Mike Whitson, Chief Research Scientist | iTracking Research


Carlyle, J. (2015, August 4). Re: 25 Direct Marketing Statistics Prove Direct Mail Works [Web log comment]. Retrieved November 2, 2016, from

Jones, J. M. (2016, January 11). Democratic, Republican Identification Near Historical Lows. Retrieved November 02, 2016, from

Whitson, M. D. (2016, October). Political Ads for Direct Mail [PPT]. Cedar Falls, IA: iTracking Research, Inc.

Also published on Medium.