Humor takes the sting out of…well…the sting. And while political and advocacy ads were once heralded for taking down opponents with a chainsaw, sometimes humor can be more powerful and moving. Humor can also help a positive or response message cut through in a more memorable way.
“Tshibaka Loss in Alaska Adds to Trump’s Midterm Failures”
– Newsweek, 11/23/2022
We were hired to help defeat MAGA extremist Kelly Tshibaka in the 2022 Alaska U.S. Senate race (Alaska’s unique run off system allows the top 4 vote getters, regardless of partisan affiliation, to advance to the General Election).
Polling showed it would be an extremely tight race with little room for error. Our IE effort was specifically dedicated to undercutting Tshibaka’s core argument for her candidacy that she would protect taxpayer dollars. In fact, Tshibaka’s own ads and MAGA-infused website stated, “I’ve spent my career holding government insiders accountable and exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in federal agencies.”
There was just one little problem: a federal investigation found Kelly Tshibaka overbilled taxpayers for five hundred and ninety-six hours as a government employee.
But the best part of Tshibaka’s problem was that, after initially blaming other people for her paperwork, she admitted that she was “engaging in fitness activities.” Our IE grabbed on to that “fitness activity” language in multiple ads. We knew from polling this issue was deadly for a “expose waste and prevent fraud” candidate like Tshibaka.
In this spot, we leaned into humor. The ad became legend locally and helped contribute to Tshibaka’s ultimate demise.
“The Most Important Election of 2023 Is Taking Place in Wisconsin” – New York Times
So how exactly do you say PROTASIEWICZ? When we started Judge Janet Protasiewicz’s campaign for Supreme Court very few people knew… but by Election Day every voter could say it. Judge Janet’s name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue so we needed to familiarize voters with her name but also give them permission to badly mispronounce it.
“Nothing like a big heel crushing scurrying cockroaches to break through the political ad clutter.”
– Joe Monahan’s New Mexico Blog
In New Mexico’s race for Secretary of State we knew we had to do something different to cut through all the ad clutter on television. Maggie Toulouse Oliver had just been elected to office in a special election two years prior due to the fact that the former Secretary of State had gone to jail. We needed a memorable spot about the great things Maggie was doing to clean up politics in New Mexico – including shining a light on dark money special interests.
“Scott Walker ❤️ the state airplane.”
In 2018 we used humor to hit Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on his use of the state airplane.
To rehabilitate his image, Walker had used the state plane to fly across the state – including flights that were just 24 miles long.
We knew from polling this was a critical issue to move a key target group of persuadable voters. We used humor to make the hit more memorable.
“A lot of people are shooting at me…”
In the ad above Governor Barnes was being attacked by so many entities it was impossible to respond to every charge. So we bundled all the opponents into one unseemly package and answered en masse. Governor Barnes was known to raise cattle so a few “moos” helped…