Dos and Don’ts of Political Ads

It’s that time of year again: political take over. If your Facebook, Twitter, radio, and TV are not swamped with political ads then I want to move to wherever you live because here in the heart of Iowa it’s becoming unbearable. Personally, I hate the negative ads and think that they are highly ineffective. Here in Iowa, the strategy of the two candidates running for senate, Bruce Braley and Joni Ernst, has been running ads showing video clips of each other saying damning things [out of context, I might add]. I think these ads are so ineffective because all they do is put down the other candidate, and in most cases are not even fully truthful – In Minnesota a few years ago one candidate for governor ran an ad saying that other candidate was a goat. That being said, not all positive ads are effective either. The purpose of ads should be to showcase the candidate’s platform in an effort to convince constituents to vote for them, not to wage war on the opposition and say nothing about you. From a marketing/PR perspective, candidates should use ads to build their character and credibility with the voters as well as position themselves in a good light.

The following ad is one that I think is awful and I don’t understand why the candidate’s campaign team thought it was a good idea to run it.

The first thing I notice about this ad is that there are no black kids on the football team – only white presumably middle class, Scandinavian Minnesotans. Minnesotan’s like to think of themselves as being diverse, worldly, and welcoming and do not take kindly to the fact that the football team has no diversity. The make-up of this football team shows that McFadden’s campaign team does not know who their audience is and how they should be appealing to them. The ad also shows McFadden saying “Let’s get out there and hit somebody!” and then shows him getting hit by one of boys near his waist. First of all, this statement promotes the violence of football which is a very hot button issue right now with all the worry over concussions. He should be telling his team to get out there and score some touchdowns or move the ball, not hit people. Finally, when he gets hit in the gut it portrays himself as being weak and unable to control those kids. As someone who is running against an incumbent he needs the voters to see him as anything but weak. I think this ad has the correct idea in that McFadden wants constituents to see him as a family man who can get things done but it is executed horribly and does not appeal to the audience of middle class Minnesotan’s that it is trying to reach.

The following ad is one of the best that I have seen this year.

This ad is definitely my favorite of the year and I love because it’s not preachy about Mowrer’s platform nor is it attacking the opposition. I love the line “When you’re in a war zone there’s no such thing as republicans and democrats, just Americans”. American politics are so polarized today and this line gets right to the point and says that the candidate is willing to reach across the aisle because we are all Americans and we all need to work together in the Senate. By showing video footage on farms, Mowrer is appealing to the small percentage of voters that will decide the election – Iowa farmers. This ad is a great PR building piece because farmers generally vote republican and with this ad Mowrer is trying to use a slice of life appeal to reach them and gain their support.

What’s your favorite/most hated political ad this year?

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