“The guv didn’t just win reelection, he defied history. The first candidate in 32 years to win the guv’s office when his party was in power in the White House. The first Dem to do that in 60 years. The first Dem to ever win a guv race while his party’s nominee lost the U.S. Senate campaign.”
– WisPolitics Post Election Analysis
Framing the election
This was the first ad of the election for Tony Evers for Governor in what was an extraordinarily tough re-election campaign. We knew from research that we needed to signal that we were moving past COVID and into the future. We never said “covid” or “pandemic” but it was there in the initial imagery. We transitioned quickly into the Governor’s accomplishments on the economy, road repair, education, and the budget surplus. This spot was the framework for the campaign and subsequent ads delved into each of the topics individually.
Most importantly, this ad set the tone that Evers won’t be a divisive leader and would focus on kitchen table issues that affect Wisconsin families… that he would “do the right thing for Wisconsin.”
The ad was voiced by Oscar Award-winning actor J.K. Simmons.
“This ad is going up in Wisconsin tomorrow. It is quite something. Watch it.”
– Rachel Maddow segment on MSNBC
Our campaign needed to define our opponent Tim Michels and his radical position on abortion. In October, a decades-old audio interview of Michels surfaced where he stated that the state government should mandate rape victims deliver the baby – even if they are as young as 12 years old. The objective of this ad was to show voters exactly what that would mean – show voters what 12 year old girls look like; show voters the innocence of a 12-year old girl (jumping rope); and force them to think about that position in relation to their vote on Election Day.
Following the Dobbs decision, abortion was a critical issue for many persuadable voters in the Wisconsin Governor’s campaign. But beyond the issue of legal abortion itself, our opponent had funded extreme tech groups that tracked and harassed women that went to an abortion clinic – through their cell phones. This ad was designed to tell a story visually to help the content be more memorable and sink in with voters.
Localize, Localize, Localize
We knew from the start that Evers needed to localize the campaign – both on the positive and the negative messages. What was resonating in the Northeast was not resonating in Milwaukee, etc. Research revealed that when persuadable voters learned of actions the governor took in their area it had the ability to determine their vote.
“Democrats own the governorship in Wisconsin. There is absolutely no reason they should have won”. Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s Morning Joe, 11/10/22
We produced over 2,000 ads for Governor Evers’ campaign. Many of them were regional ads that featured local storytellers such as the small business ads above. A regional approach was critical to cutting through the clutter of television and showing voters that Governor Evers had improved their community at a local level. In the ad below we had 8 variations of the “truck ad” that showed local starting points in our travel distance examples.
“Evers defeated Republican business executive Michels to win reelection in one of the nation’s most tightly divided states.”
– POLITICO, 11/9/22
Real world consequences
It was important for Evers to show voters the real world consequences of Tim Michels’ radical abortion policies. Anna from Green Bay told a very powerful story that connected with voters.
At a company, the culture comes from the top
Executive level offices are often won and lost on character. In a series of spots we highlighted allegations of harassment and abuse at his company as told through court filings and news reports.
“A massive win for Democrats in an election cycle where they faced significant political headwinds. Typically, when one party controls both the White House and Congress, Wisconsin elections swing in the other direction. Evers’ victory bucked that trend.”
– National Public radio, 11/9/22
Our closing argument for Governor Evers was a direct appeal to voters that clearly laid out the contrast between the candidates. Throughout the campaign we tested every single ad through rigorous scientifically-significant samples. Evers’ closing ad was the best testing spot we did all campaign – we had it at just the moment we needed it.
Interested in reading about Evers’ 2018 victory over Scott Walker? Click here.