In This Article Political Marketing

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Core Texts
  • Handbooks
  • Journals
  • Definitions
  • Theoretical Foundations and Concepts
  • Critical Perspectives

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Communication Political Marketing
Christina Holtz-Bacha
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 September 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 August 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0130


The first use of the term “political marketing” has been attributed to political scientist Stanley Kelley in his book on Professional Public Relations and Political Power (Kelley 1956, cited under Core Texts, p. 53), in which he describes the growing importance of “the public relations man” (p. vii) in political campaigns. Thus, Kelley’s book was also an early account of the rise of the new profession of political consultants and the increasing differentiation of campaigns tasks. However, it took another ten to fifteen years until political marketing became gradually acknowledged as a new perspective in the field, and marketing experts such as Philip Kotler promoted the incorporation of the marketing of organizations, persons, and ideas into marketing thought and theory. The early advocates of an extension of the concept of marketing to the political realm had no doubt that commercial and political marketing followed the same principles and that alleged differences were overstated. However, political marketing soon developed into a field of its own that is informed by three parent disciplines: marketing, political science, and communication. At the same time, political marketing, which became regarded both as a discipline and as an activity, moved away from the transactional perspective of commercial marketing to exchange models, which are better adapted to the political environment. The early writings closely associated political marketing with election campaigning. Given that the field is still very much dominated by Anglo-Saxon literature, this association also meant a strong focus on the candidate-oriented US political system or the first-past-the-post voting system of the United Kingdom. With political scientists and, though still to a minor extent, communication scholars gaining more and more ground in the field, political marketing not only broadens the perspective beyond the electoral process but also opens up for other political and media systems.

General Overviews

Several books provide overviews of the field of political marketing and at the same time reflect the establishment and differentiation of political marketing as a discipline and as an activity. Nimmo 1970 (cited under Core Texts) was one of the first books covering the evolution of marketing in politics, followed twenty or more years later by O’Shaughnessy 1990 (cited under Core Texts), Newman 1994, Franklin 1994, Scammell 1995, and Maarek 1995, the last of which is the English adaptation of a French version that already appeared in 1992. These early monographs as well as Newman 1999 represent the close association of political marketing and electoral campaigning. The equation of political marketing and election campaigning was abandoned only gradually in the following years, with the extension of the field to the political arena beyond electoral races and with a stronger influence by the marketing discipline, which is reflected in Lees-Marshment 2009.

  • Franklin, Bob. 1994. Packaging politics: Political communications in Britain’s media democracy. London: Edward Arnold.

    E-mail Citation »

    This book delivers a critical overview of the development of political marketing in British politics at the central and local levels, and how politics is packaged to influence the mass media.

  • Kavanagh, Dennis. 1995. Election campaigning: The new marketing of politics. Oxford: Blackwell.

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    This book provides an analysis of the changes in campaign communication in general and in Britain in particular. These changes have come about mainly as a response to the availability of new technologies and by drawing on external professional communicators as advertising and public relations advisers, pollsters, and speechwriters.

  • Lees-Marshment, Jennifer. 2009. Political marketing: Principles and applications. London: Routledge.

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    Textbook, firmly bound to the marketing terminology, summarizing the basics of political marketing, with boxes for tasks, discussion points, and practitioners’ perspectives. The book goes beyond the electoral context and also addresses government communication.

  • Maarek, Philippe J. 1995. Political marketing and communication. Academia Research Monographs. London: John Libbey.

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    Comprehensive overview of the rise and foundations of political marketing, its tools, and the distinctive features of election campaigns. It is the English adaptation of a book in French that was published in 1992, Communication et marketing de l’homme politique (Paris: Litec). Both have been revised and extended several times. A Spanish translation of the French version, titled Marketing político y comunicación: Claves para una buena información política, was published in 2009 (Barcelona: Paidós). The most recent English edition appeared in 2011, titled Campaign Communication & Political Marketing (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell).

  • Newman, Bruce I. 1994. The marketing of the president: Political marketing as campaign strategy. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Using the 1992 presidential election as a case study, the book describes the general evolution of marketing in politics and the employment of voter segmentation, candidate positioning, and the strategic concepts of the Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and Ross Perot campaigns.

  • Newman, Bruce I. 1999. The mass marketing of politics: Democracy in an age of manufactured images. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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    Much inspired by the two Clinton campaigns in 1992 and 1996, Newman analyzes the new way of campaigning and the development of the permanent campaign by a president who heavily relied on polling.

  • Scammell, Margaret. 1995. Designer politics: How elections are won. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan.

    DOI: 10.1007/978-1-349-23942-9E-mail Citation »

    An analysis of party and government communication in the Margaret Thatcher era, with a special focus on the increasingly influential role of marketing experts.

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