Who does the online marketing for political parties?

I have been in the domain name business for 9 years, and marketing for even longer than that. There are “smart” domain names for business, and I usually talk about that (a lot). Not just what should we call our name (before the dot), but also what top-level domain (TLD) is most suitable (after the dot).

Generally speaking, for a Canadian business appealing to Canadians, .CA is the best choice. For a business marketing primarily to the United States, .COM is the best. For the latter category, if both .CA and .COM are available, try to get both (but use the .CA as your brand).

For Canadian politics, here are my thoughts:

  • I would suggest that .CA should be the brand of choice.
  • If it’s unavailable, .ORG is a potential alternative.
  • .COM is just DEAD WRONG. (Although .NET is perhaps a tiny bit worse.)
  • For candidates with simple to spell names, the domain name FIRSTLAST.CA is ideal.
  • For candidates with a difficult to spell last name, an exception might be using the first name with a descriptor, such as GOSTEVE.CA or STEVE2009.CA.
  • For a party, the party name is the ideal prefix, i.e. BCLIBERAL.CA or BCNDP.CA. Plural sounds funny, and abbreviations should be avoided (unless that IS the de facto name, as in the case of the NDP).
  • Never, ever use a dash.

So, what have the parties in the upcoming May 12th BC election come up with? Let’s review:

  • The BC NDP – BCNDP.CA – it’s an abbreviation, but since everyone knows the party brand as NDP, this is acceptable. Hands down, the best domain name in the campaign.
  • The BC Liberal Party – BCLIBERALS.COM – plural (wrong) and .COM (dead wrong).  Next election, they should change this.
  • The BC Green Party – GREENPARTY.BC.CA – the province code in the name is a bit passé now, but at least it’s the right province. My formula comes up with BCGREEN.CA, which isn’t a great deal better, so it passes.  Considering the “National” Green Party is “greenparty.ca” (the root of their domain), this adds some coordinated marketing value to their version of the name, so I wouldn’t bother changing it for next election.
  • The BC Conservative Party – CONSERVATIVESBC.COM – the name is backwards, plural and .COM (wrong, wrong and wrong).  Next election, they should change this.

I reviewed the other 18 parties that had a website, and found only 1 that was as smart with their domain branding as the NDP – and that was The Sex Party – THESEXPARTY.CA – mind you, that domain name may convey something completely different than what one might otherwise presume. Touché. Otherwise, for next election, I’d throw the entire lot away and start again (assuming there is any budget for that).

There is truly some awful stuff: yppofbc.com, reformbc.net, www.vote-ed.com.

My personal favourite for it’s incredible awfulness, however is the party that used a Geocities.com page for their website. Consider how unprofessional not even having you domain name is, then add to that the fact that Geocities just announced they are shutting down. Hilarious. Better to have no website, in my opinion!