How to do Great Political Campaign Video & TV Ads

Properly done, nothing beats the power of
television or video ads to persuade, move, inflame, motivate, cajole, anger or convince
a voter to support you on election day. A voter need not make an effort to hear and
see your TV spot or video. All they have to do is sit in front of a TV
or computer screen. Unlike radio or telephone calls, television
allows you to use pictures and footage to help carry the message. Unlike mail, voters don’t have to read any
words. Unlike a website, voters don’t have to click
a url to find you, or make any effort to learn something about you. Those who were here on the day that President
Kennedy was assassinated, or alive when planes hit the world trade center
will never forget what they saw or where they were. That says about all that needs to be said
about the power of pictures and video footage to trigger human emotion. Three basic tips about about tv commercials: #1. Before you produce one, research the rules. What disclaimer is required? Must you use certain words to comply with
the law? Where must the disclaimer appear in the spot
and how large must the font be? Does the law require that your picture be
in the spot? Are you required to talk in the commercial? If you don’t comply with the rules, the
tv stations will not air your spot. #2. Decide what you want to say and write your
script. Do that first. Repeat. Write the script first. Then decide what pictures or footage or symbols
you are going to use to help carry your words. A good script will survive bad footage. The best footage in the world will not save
a bad script. #3. If you are doing a spot to air on You Tube,
you will not be under the same time constraint, but you still have to comply with disclaimer
requirements. As you write your commercial script, remember
this. The purpose of your spot is to inform and
entertain. Voters hate spots that don’t say anything
and candidates who waste their time. As you decide what visuals and sounds to use
in your tv spot, remember that what is most important is not what they mean to you, it
is what that footage, those pictures, sounds and symbols trigger inside the head of the
viewer. If your spots are irrelevant to the viewer,
you will be irrelevant to the voters. Broadly speaking, there are five different
types of political television spots. Biographical. Values. Issues. Negative, or contrast spots,
Response ads. Some examples of each. If you are a first time candidate unknown
to the electorate, you will need to tell voters who you are— and usually candidates do bio
spots before they do anything else. These spots tell voters that you have done
something significant in your life, that you have your feet on the ground, and
that you have some qualifications to do the job. (Clayton William’s bio spot) In this spot you learned that Williams was
a Texas native, army veteran, father, husband, college graduate, business owner,
successful entrepreneur, job creator, deeply familiar with the growth industries in Texas—
a great resume for someone running for Governor. When writing the script for your bio spot
ask yourself. What about your background makes you qualified
to do the job? What about your background qualifies you to
make decisions about how people live, make a living, and raise their families. If you are an incumbent, tell people what
you’ve accomplished or done to earn another term. Values Spots. Voters need to know something about your core
convictions, your fundamental beliefs and what is important to you. Your job is to let them know that your values
and moral convictions are in sync with theirs. (Jeffords Farmer Spot) Vermont is a rural state with a lot of dairy
farmers. In this spot you learned
what Jeffords had done to help them, the farmland protection program, the dairy promotion program,
and how that had helped farmers stay in business. There is a strong visual message in the footage
associating Jeffords with a hard working farm family. Note the slogan. Jeffords was popular and had served as Attorney
General and as a Congressman. He was opposed by a Vermont newcomer
who had never held public office…thus the slogan. “It’s a job you have to earn.” When you write a spot about your core convictions,
look for things you have in common with the people you represent—common concerns, common
interests, common moral principles or core beliefs. Letting them know that you do
is your way of letting them know they can trust your judgment to make decisions
on their behalf. Issue Positioning. .
An issue positioning spot is one where you stake your ground on an issue important to
you, important to the electorate, and note what you are going
to do to fix a problem. This can cover a broad range of issues…trade,
taxes, jobs, foreign policy, crime, race relations
or just about any other topic that is of concern to the voters … (Rocks Spot Clayton Williams) What voters learned in the spot is that Williams
was deeply committed to solving a drug abuse problem in Texas, that he had a three point
program to do that, including early education, mild penalties for teenage drug abuse, and
tough love for persistent drug abusers. The spot also put the candidate’s personality
on display, his grit, determination and sassy personality. This commercial was judged the best political
TV spot in the United States the year it ran. When deciding what kind of issue spots you
should do, the first question to ask is this — is it something you feel passionately about? It is something important to the coalition
of people who are your likely voters? Can you give voters some specifics
on what you’ll do to fix the problem? Is it an issue in which you and your opponent
disagree? One in which voters agree with you and disagree
with your opponent? Negative Ads
. Negative ads are perfectly appropriate if
you are fair, legitimate, relevant and accurate. And I mean dead on accurate. They are most effective when you supply information
to voters that they don’t know at the outset of a campaign… Information that undermines your opponent’s
credentials, qualifications, credibility or character. If you are going to do them, be prepared to
prove, document, and validate everything you say. If it takes more than one spot to say what
you need to say, there is no rule that says you can’t turn your broadside into a series of spots. (Hinchey negs) These three commercials were run in sequence
over a three week period, and they told a story of a candidate who broke the rules to
raise campaign cash, used taxpayers money to reward those who made illegal campaign
contributions, and broke his promise to return the illegal cash after he was caught. Note the use of questions posed at the end
of the first two spots, which invite viewers to come
to their own conclusions about the character of the candidate. And the use of newspaper clips to document
the attack. When you write a negative spot,
look for way to prove what you are saying—newspaper clips, quotes, or footage. And Respect the voter. Just give them the facts. Voters know how to think
and they don’t need you to do their thinking for them. If you telegraph to the viewer that they are
suppose to hate your opponent without first telling them why,
they’ll tune you out. Response Ads
. Those are the ads you do when you’ve been
attacked. The secret of an effective response ad-answer
the charge, then kick back in a way that puts your opponent
on the defensive or shames them for what they have done. If you can use a little humor, all the better. (Jeffords cow ad) This spot capitalized on the good will that
voters had toward Jim Jeffords, and used a working dairy farmer to rebut the charge that
Jeffords was dishonest. It also ridiculed the charge leveled by the
person who made it, painting him as an untrustworthy person willing to say anything to win votes. Television and video are the most powerful
tools in your advertising arsenal. Lots of candidates waste money on television
spots. Usually the mistake is in the way they are
written. And usually the problem is candidates try
to make too many points in one spot, or communicate so much information that the viewer remembers
nothing. Before you write your spot, decide what idea,
message or thought you want to convey. Make one point well, and your spot will serve
you well.

Maurice Vega

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