First Read

The trouble with those political campaign online 'birthday cards'

They can actually lead to spam.

Photo by Richard Burlton on Unsplash

Casey DeSantis often is said to be the energy behind her husband’s presidential campaign. Now, her brand is being used in an online fundraising push. She celebrated her 43rd birthday Monday, and the DeSantis camp rolled out a series of ads on social media asking supporters to sign a virtual birthday card. 

“She’s standing with me side by side in this fight for our freedom - and I want to show her how much our team appreciates her. Will you add your name next to mine on her birthday card?” Gov. Ron DeSantis asks in the ad. Of course, when the link is clicked, it asks for one’s name, email address and zip code – the trifecta of information critical to a political campaign’s email marketing department. 

Those signing the card also signed on to DeSantis’ campaign email list, where they will surely be hit with fundraising requests throughout the campaign process. This type of “lead” gathering strategy is not a new one: Michelle Obama asked supporters to fill out a card for her husband in 2010 in a similar digital campaign. Melania Trump did the same for her husband in 2020. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott even asked his supporters to fill out a card for Melania on his campaign website. 

That approach in general, however, has begun to receive criticism for perpetuating spam messaging and using scam-like strategies to get personal information. And the use of social media for political ads also is getting controversial.

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