Political SMS Marketing

Political Marketing Copyright Issues: How to Use GIFs in Your Campaign

Political Marketing Copyright Issues How To Use GIFs in Your Campaign

No matter how you pronounce it — with a hard G or a soft J — GIFs are a game-changer for your SMS and MMS text message marketing campaigns. People say a picture’s worth a thousand words. If that’s the case, just imagine how many words an animated GIF is worth! And with SMS and MMS message character limits, every word counts. With that in mind, GIFs are a valuable tool in your campaign toolbox to quickly and effectively convey emotions, thoughts, and processes. In this blog post, we reveal how to use GIFs in your campaign to avoid copywriting issues AND generate more donations for your political campaign.


Why Use SMS and MMS Text Messaging for Your Political Campaign

The world of marketing and promotion is constantly changing. Telephone and email outreach used to be the norm, but they’re now considered antiquated methods of connecting with an audience—not to mention, they have a lackluster success rate. The average open rate for email newsletters is only about 22.71%, and the average click-through rate is an even more dismal 2.91%.

SMS and MMS text messages, on the other hand, boast far more impressive numbers. For example, 78% of consumers say SMS is the fastest way to reach them, and 90% of text messages are read within the first three minutes of being receivedSMS marketing can effectively reach thousands or even millions of customers at once and is the perfect channel for marketers who need to share time-sensitive promotions or information.


So, What’s the Deal With GIFs?

A GIF (which stands for graphics interchange format) is a short, animated image saved with the .GIF extension (as opposed to .JPG or .PDF). The recommended length for a GIF is no longer than six seconds. You’ve probably seen GIFs online, taken from popular TV shows, movies, or memes.

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Benefits of Gifs in Political and Nonprofit SMS Marketing

Adding a GIF to your SMS or MMS text messages can help you convey more than what the black and white words in your message are saying. There are many reasons to consider adding GIFs to your SMS text messaging campaign:

  • To make your call to action stand out
  • To create a more interesting and engaging message
  • To demonstrate how to do something like vote or find a ballot box 
  • To personalize your organization or candidate
  • To increase donations or votes

Here are some real-life examples that show different ways brands have added GIFs to their text messages.


GIFs and Copyright Law

Copyright law has always been a little complicated. GIFs further complicated the issue when the format was created in 1987. GIFs often depict copyrighted material. They’re usually created by someone other than the original copyright holder and can be distributed by anyone—that leaves a lot of legal questions up in the air.

You might think it would just be easier to avoid using GIFs in your mobile marketing, but the team at Tatango has been helping clients successfully implement GIFs in their campaigns for over 14 years. Many of our clients see $5 in donations for every $1 invested in text message marketing — and GIFs are a major contributor to a sky-high ROI.


Tips to Get Started Using GIFs in Your Mobile Marketing

Below are a few ways to steer clear of any legal complications when using GIFs in your mass text messaging campaigns.

  1. Try creating your own.
    Animation doesn’t have to be complex to be eye-catching; you don’t need to compete with Pixar! A GIF can be as simple as rotating through product colors, which is an efficient way to provide subscribers with a lot of information in a single image instead of using your limited text characters to list all the variations.

    Or, use GIFs to catch your subscriber’s eye and draw attention to your message, like encouraging voter turnout with a graphic that simply scrolls across the screen. It isn’t complicated and adds a level of interactivity that keeps your SMS and MMS text messages interesting.

Political Marketing Copyright Issues How To Use GIFs in Your CampaignTatango Design Studio

You don’t need an expensive program to create a GIF. There are many free resources out there, such as Canva, that help you easily create GIFs using their software directly in your browser within minutes. And when in doubt, use the Tatango Design Studio free of charge — a team of experts who can help you craft eye-catching GIFs based on your organization’s goals.


2. Consider whether the GIF you choose meets fair use requirements.

If you want to use a pre-existing GIF and avoid copyright issues, it’s important to determine whether your usage falls under the Fair Use Act, which protects the use of copyright-protected material in the following ways:

  • Criticism and commentary: This use is most commonly applied in reviews that directly reference the media in question. For example, if you’re reviewing a movie and use a GIF of a clip from the movie, your use of that copyrighted material is protected.
  • News reporting: Your favorite local news station doesn’t have to worry about violating copyright when they’re reporting the news. If copyright were extended to news usage, reporting would be limited and skewed by a station’s ability to obtain a license to use copyrighted material and report the news quickly and correctly.
  • Research and nonprofit educational uses: If your goal is to educate an audience, your use of copyrighted material is protected. This usage extends to educators as well as their students.
  • Parody: Parody may be the least definable of the fair use protections because many things can be considered a parody. For the best and likely most familiar example of parody, we can turn to “Weird Al” Yankovic’s reimaginings of popular songs. Even though his songs use the exact melodies and riffs of copyrighted material, his lyrics are comedic imitations of the originals. They’re protected by the Fair Use Act. You’ll also find similarly protected parodies in pop culture skits on Saturday Night Live.

Even though the Fair Use Act protects creators’ use of copyrighted material, keep in mind that if you’re using copyrighted material for profit, it’s better to err on the side of caution and create original GIFs instead.


3. Avoid using GIFs showing famous faces.

Sorry, but that meme of Will Ferrel is probably out of the question. 


Unless you have written permission from everyone featured in the animation, don’t use a GIF made of their likeness. Most celebrities don’t want to become unwilling sponsors of a product or cause.


Add GIFs to Your SMS Marketing with Tatango

Creating and using GIFs in a campaign is fun. They add an animated flair to static, black and white text messages. If you’re ready to jump into the world of mobile marketing with animated GIFs, or if you have any questions, contact the text message marketing experts at Tatango today. Our Tatango Design Studio team helps our clients craft GIFs designed to boost donations, votes, and ROI via your text message marketing campaigns.

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