Dive in deep on a story
Too often political ad makers want to throw 5 or 6 issues into a single ad. They try to say too much and, as a result, end up saying nothing. Great ads can focus on great stories and great storytelling – simplifying issues and votes for an electorate in a way that is memorable.
In 2020, we were hired by an Independent Expenditure (IE) to help re-elect Abigail Spanberger to Congress in Virginia’s 7th district. This district was a swing seat traditionally won by Republicans. To cut through the clutter on the air we needed to tell a powerful story and present a message in a unique way.
Spanberger’s Republican opponent, Nick Freitas, voted to let businesses discriminate and fire expecting mothers for no other reason but their pregnancy. Polling showed this was a devastating hit if done right.
After all the ballots were cast, Spanberger won re-election to Congress with just over 8,000 votes… 50.9%.
For Governor Josh Shapiro actions speak louder than words
In the campaign to elect Josh Shapiro Governor of Pennsylvania, our IE’s strategic imperative was to persuade white working-class men. We needed to give them a reason to vote FOR Shapiro. All our research showed this group was a very cynical audience that was difficult to reach but they could be persuaded by showing actions Shapiro had taken that could benefit them. In other words, we had to show that Shapiro walked the walk, not just talked the talk – that is best done through a story.
We organize our thoughts and the world into stories so we can try and make sense of it all.
We are story tellers. We take the hard numbers from a poll and meld it with a candidate’s life experience to weave a story that is understandable, moving, and matters to voters.
Some of the first words we learn as kids are, “Once Upon a Time.” Our firm takes the story from there. Here are a few of the hundreds of spots we’ve created that tell a story with a beginning a middle and an end. In the IE spot above, we helped the United Association tell Mark Kelly’s story and help him secure a seat in the U.S. Senate.
“The 2018 Senate race that likely bothers Trump the most”
– MSNBC on Jon Tester’s victory
We were hired by the United Association to help Jon Tester hold on to his U.S. Senate seat in Montana. Polls showed an extremely tight race headed into Election Day between Tester and his opponent. In order to win, we knew our creative had to tell a story and connect with voters.
Across the country Democrats picked up greater numbers in urban and suburban areas and lost ground in the more rural areas. That night, we watched as Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill went down in defeat to Republicans but, despite multiple Donald Trump visits to the state, Montana was different. The next day after the ballots were counted Jon Tester came out the victor.
We targeted our advertising to Montanans who needed to hear and see a story of Montana… the story of Jon Tester. It wasn’t about Republican or Democrat, it was about right and wrong.
That’s what Jon Tester understands and why he is such a good fit for Montana.
The spot was a quiet and patriotic. It showed Jon as “one of us.” Oscar-award winner J.K. Simmons poured his incredible talent to the voice-over narration.
“Democrats win control of US Senate as Ossoff defeats Perdue” – Washington Post
The 2020 Georgia runoff campaigns were always going to be extremely difficult and the pressure was only increased following the General Election where control of the Senate all came down to these two U.S. Senate seats.
There was incredible work taking place on behalf of Ossoff and Warnock to best position their historic turnout operations and ground game by organizers, volunteers, canvassers, and non-profit groups (Stacey Abrams deserves all the credit she has been given and more). Our role on the IE side was to help define the race early by positioning Perdue and Loeffler as corrupt, insider-trading politicians who were getting rich off the pandemic while regular Georgians were suffering.
We did this through storytelling that cut through the clutter on television. The quiet strength of this IE spot made it stand out in a sea of fast-moving, loud, in-your-face style ads that were saturating screens everywhere in Georgia.
“There’s manure in the water…”
Donald Trump won the 1st State Senate district in Wisconsin by 17 points; Scott Walker won the district by 24%. In fact, a Democrat hadn’t held the seat in 33 years. But the issue of water quality, embedded in a personal story, helped move voters to make a different decision in the special election in 2018. We utilized a personal iPhone video taken by Erika of her own faucet to make this IE spot feel more real to voters.
LiUNA: Trump can’t be trusted.
We ran Independent Expenditure campaigns for LiUNA in various states at various levels from Congress to Senate to President. In the example below, we released an ad targeting Pennsylvania seniors shortly after the Bob Woodward tapes were released. The Woodward tapes revealed that Trump knew how deadly the virus was while he was lying and concealing it from the public. It was a highly potent hit we needed to amplify with key voters.