On the second day of Ad Week Europe, a panel chaired by RadiumOne weighed up the role data and strategy played in putting Donald Trump in the White House.
Cambridge Analytica’s David Wilkinson was a lead data scientist on the Trump for President campaign but even he stressed the importance of recognising that candidates win elections, not pure data.
“That said, the amount of money spent in data shows there is something in it,” he added, commenting that when he first joined, the campaign had no existing data to speak of.
Wilkinson discussed the simplicity of Trump’s messages and the authenticity of his voice, adding that while the campaign targeted persuadable people, Trump managed to lure some Democrats in because of who he is.
“Anyone who can bring people with a single track mind into the centre, then I think you have a chance,” he added. “Maybe Clinton’s messages just didn’t resonated as much as Trump’s did.”
Professor Paul Springer described how Clinton’s campaign, which started off being about electing the first female president, was in awe of Obama’s ’08 campaign, expecting the same messages to reverberate this time around. He discussed how Trump made the campaign about himself, using first person tweets: “The modes of communication really shifted.”
He praised Trump for being “electric” and “newsworthy” meaning he could take on anyone, compared to the Clinton campaign being controlled and taking the moral high ground, adding “we never got that comfort with Trump”.
Taking the contrarian point of view, MediaCom joint chief strategy officer Chris Binns described the election result as a “triumph of reality TV”, adding that it was about culture and “culture eats strategy for breakfast, right?”
He described the difference between Trump and Clinton’s respective fame as that Trump made people talk, comparing the president to Oprah Winfrey.
“No one makes rational decisions,” he concluded, “they make emotional decisions and rationalise them.”