Election season is in full swing and the buzz of the Presidential race inescapable.

While it might just be Americans that are heading to the polls, US elections always capture the imagination of the rest of the world – and the clash of the Titans, Trump vs. Clinton, is no different.

Amidst the ongoing throw downs, exposures and slew of controversies, a number of brands have been using the combined power of the press and political fever to piggyback the US election.

It’s refreshing to see brands dipping their toes into this arena, with many usually shying away from the contentious world of politics.

The rules of engagement are seemingly changing and brands aren’t as afraid as they have been in the past to get involved in the conversation.

While we wait with bated breath to find out the USA’s fate, here’s a number of successful brand campaigns that have hijacked the 2016 election.

Make America Pancakes Again, by Bisquick

Brains at the all-American brand have whipped up a fresh batch of creative with the ‘Make America Pancakes Again’ presidential campaign.

Rather than Clinton vs. Trump, it’s a head-to-head match with pancakes pitted against waffles in the ultimate American breakfast showdown.

Both breakfast favourites have launched their own attack ads against each other, with the parody campaign creating a little fun among the serious political noise.

The campaign has trickled into social too, with #VotePancakes and #VoteWaffles used across Twitter and Facebook, plus a Tumblr page bursting with content.

Captain Obvious Runs for President, by Hotels.com

Hotels.com has put a humorous spin on its integrated politically-tinted campaign, fronted by brand mascot Captain Obvious.

He’s taken a literal 50-state tour of the USA (including stops at hotels, of course) with a number of puns and baby-kissing gags thrown in, all in a bid for the presidency.

This isn’t just a surface campaign though; it’s been rolled out across multiple channels, with a dedicated website full of content, including video, GIFs and even memorabilia.

How Trump are you? By 888

The controversial candidate has been digitally transformed by 888 into the form of an interactive quiz.

Users are being invited to test themselves against the Donald Trump-O-Meter to identify how much they have in common with the Republican candidate – from their chosen shade of tan to their favourite hat.

It’s a nice example of shareable social media content, though I am not sure how many people will be proudly admitting they’re 100% Trump on their Facebook page.

I’m 0%, if you were wondering…

No Choice, by Doritos

Crisp giant Doritos is throwing its hat into the political ring with a campaign that targets students, encouraging them to take part in this year’s election and make their vote count.

How? In partnership with Rock the Vote it has created a limited edition of crap crisps that boast no flavour or crunch and are packaged up in lack-lustre fashion, made for the 62% of young Americans who didn’t vote in 2012.

Taglines rolled out with the campaign include ‘if you’re not registered to vote, you get no choice’ and ‘the boldest choice is making a choice’.

 

Reach Across the Aisle, by JetBlue

This light-hearted stunt was designed to lift the mood of election season.

150 unsuspecting passengers were filmed for the campaign from JetBlue and invited to take part in a competition to win free air travel to one of 20 destinations.

The catch? They’d only get their hands on the prize if as a group they could agree on a single destination by unanimous vote.

The group managed to compromise on Costa Rica, with the key takeaway being that if everyone works together, all parties can win.

The successful social experiment was filmed and shared across JetBlue’s social channels and has earned more than 1m views since.

 

Vote Rump, by GBK

Across the pond, UK-based burger chain Gourmet Burger Kitchen is poking fun at Donald Trump with its new ad campaign, Vote Rump.

The restaurant’s latest burger has sparked a series of outdoor ads that compare the candidate to a hamburger, with taglines such as ‘Vote Rump – it’s a bit of an arse’ and ‘Vote Rump – it’s really rich and incredibly cheesy’.

Simple marketing at its finest.

 

In summary…

The key takeaway from these various campaigns?

Brands can insert themselves into relevant political culture, without taking themselves too seriously.

Rather than trying to ignore one of the most talked about subjects of the year, these brands have managed to embrace the conversation without taking sides.