Olathe Board of Education Member Julie Steele


Segmentation for Both Positive and Negative Messaging

The Board is now four seats for Democrats/moderates and three seats for Republicans/conservatives.

Without Julie Steele’s victory in conservative Kansas in a year where school board seats, like hers, were targeted by conservatives nationwide, the Board would have been lost.

The Challenge: Save the School Board. The Olathe (KS) School Board consists of 7 seats – all elected by the totality of voters in Olathe. In 2021, 3 of the 7 seats were up. Our candidate, Julie Steele, ran in the open seat race. If all three seats were won by Republican/conservatives, the School Board would switch to Republican/conservative control. By the last month of the campaign, it was clear that Julie Steele was the only candidate left who could thwart a conservative takeover of the board.


Our Solution: Targeted Negativity. Julie’s conservative opponent, Jennifer Gilmore, made a big mistake. When asked about her spotty voting record by a local newspaper, she responded, “No one cares about voting.” 

We knew we could use that issue with Republican voters. To throw our competition off the scent, we put up a straight positive Facebook advertisement in the final two weeks to the entire voting universe.

But knowing that programmatic ads are not readily shareable, we went straight negative with our final two week display creatives. To Republican voters, we presented our opponent’s poor views on voting. To Democrats, we showed our opponent’s support from Republican and conservative causes.

We ensured our programmatic ads only went into targeted homes by using our cutting-edge Geotargeted Addressable technology. This allowed our ads to reach only households right down to their address plat lines. The ads had a match rate of 97.94% for Democrats and 98.69% for Republicans.


The Result: A Victory for Frugality. Despite spending less than $5000 for the program, the impact was clear. Julie Steele won by 65 votes (.3%). On the other hand, the incumbent Democrats/moderates lost by 8% and 10% respectively. We only worked in Julie Steele’s race and not in the two incumbent Democrat/moderate elections. 

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