Florida’s Rick Scott Shuns Mobile in Running Mate Announcement Push

By Kate Kaye
September 2, 2010

Barack Obama famously used his vice presidential running mate announcement as a means of collecting e-mail addresses and mobile numbers in August, 2008. Today, Florida GOP candidate for governor Rick Scott is expected to announce his lieutenant governor pick via e-mail, choosing specifically to avoid text messaging. His campaign, which is spending a notable amount on online ads, is using search and display ads, along with Twitter and Facebook to push the effort.

“Want to be the first to know Rick’s pick for Lt. Governor?!” asked a campaign staffer in a post on the ScottForFlorida Twitter account Wednesday. The post linked to a page on a sign-up form on the campaign site. “Sign up below to receive an e-mail announcing Rick’s pick for Lt. Governor before the rest of Florida finds out,” states the site.

Email “still king” when it comes to fundraising and communicating with voters, said Vincent Harris, senior Web consultant for the Scott campaign, and CEO of Austin, TX-based digital political shop Harris Media.

rickscott-ltgov-facebook“We chose purposely not to engage in a mobile program,” he told ClickZ News. “I learned with the [Bob] McDonnell campaign… that mobile just isn’t there yet in terms of usage.” Harris worked on the digital program for McDonnell, a Republican who won the election for Virginia governor in a landslide in 2009.

Harris said the announcement initiative is expected to generate an additional 2,000 e-mails sign-ups for the campaign’s supporter list. “We’re seeing open rates on the list we’ve built through ads up [over 35 percent], which is simply amazing,” he added.

Rumors are flying in Florida political circles regarding whom Scott – a self-proclaimed “conservative outsider” who’s self-funded his big-spending campaign – will choose as his running mate. People searching for information about the lieutenant governor pick are met with ads promoting the sign-ups. The campaign is also running display and text ads around the effort in Google’s content network. The ads started Tuesday.

In addition, the campaign is targeting ads on Facebook to Scott likers, along with those who like other Florida Republicans like Marco Rubio, the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, and Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, whom Scott defeated in an upset – a blow to the state’s Republican Party establishment.

According to Harris, the Scott campaign has spent $74,000 on Facebook ads thus far. He compared that to McDonnell’s $7,000 Facebook ad spending total. “We have a huge online budget,” said Harris of the Scott campaign. Still, he called the campaign a TV-centric one, alluding to the millions Scott has already spent on television ads.

In addition to the running mate pick ads, the Scott campaign is also latching onto anti-Obama sentiment in search and display advertising to generate donations. “Stop Obama’s ally. Donate to a conservative outsider,” state some ads, according to Harris. In this case, President Obama’s ally is Alex Sink, Scott’s Democratic opponent.

During the primary, Scott grabbed national media attention in another Obama-related primary ad – a TV spot – in which he proclaimed, “Mr. President, Ground Zero is the wrong place for a mosque.”

UPDATE: In an e-mail sent the morning of September 2, the Scott campaign revealed that Representative Jennifer Carroll was the mystery Lieutenant Governor pick. “I am so grateful today to announce that Representative Jennifer Carroll of Fleming Island Hill is my pick for Lieutenant Governor,” wrote Scott. “Even more importantly, I am honored that Jennifer is the first African American Republican woman to be part of a statewide ticket in Florida.” The message went on to note, “Make sure you also connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest as we campaign together against Alex Sink, Rod Smith and their liberal agenda.” It also introduced a new campaign domain, ScottCarrollForFlorida.com.