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March 31, 2005


The interesting thing for political ads (and all ads) is 10, 20 years out, when everybody has super broadband, and it will actually be much cheaper because of narrowcasting.

I envision little full-motion movies playing in boxes on your web page. The creativity required will be very interesting...it will have to get people to click thru. I think political TV ads will try to drive traffic to web presentations.

Imagine drawing a viewer in, and getting them to click through interesting video presentations of policy subjects they may be interested in. Imagine John Candidate doing a custom arctic drilling spot you can view, cause you care about that. Followed by a discussion with a petroleum geologist (with neat charts, or animations of caribou migration patterns) and an economist talking about why it's a mistake. Etc.

It potentially will result in much more information being available. I mean, a person can go to candidate websites and read policy papers now, but who wants to do that? You could tell the medicare story in a few minutes with some voiceover, some dramatization, some metaphor.

I don't think people will watch extended versions of existing TV ads; they will become more substantive (or funny) like today's documentaries, but with greater added graphical capabilities. That will get cheaper in time; it's too expensive right now for political ads. The postproduction effects quality of many regular ads today is pretty amazing.

Sure, candidates are pretty much bound by the electoral cycle (especially penny-poor challengers), but couldn't the Democratic Party (or similar progressively-oriented bodies) invest in noncyclical advertising? Not necessarily something particularly overt, but getting positive images of the party & progressive organisations out there in the background.

That way, you get a general progressive / Democratic base from which specific candidates can use as a thematic jumping off point, rather than begin from scratch each time the elections roll around.

I've worked in both political consulting and product advertising. I once tried to sell a direct mail consultant on a concept a colleague of mine has been developing in product advertising: licensing. But to no avail.

The theory here is that many regional advertisers are spending money they don't have to, developing parallel campaigns for similar products. Meanwhile, advertising agencies are developing multiple approaches to single products (whether on spec as a pitch, or in numerous concepts for an existing client), from which the client chooses only one. So there's a lot of creative material out there going unused or underused.

Direct mail, I think, lends itself well to this idea. Issue-oriented pieces can be used and reused by multiple campaigns across the country, just by changing the name on the back.

In fact, the DCCC could contract with a direct mail production house to create generic issue pieces, which they would license (or sell) to the DCCC, which would itself relicense to individual campaigns, profits being split between the creators and the DCCC.

Or something like that.

Kagro--a lot of legislative caucus operations already work somewhat like that. I remember a few years back working with a photographer who was having me drive back and forth through a pothole--Michigan's roads are probably the worst in the country, especially in the late 1990's--just so he could get a shot of the "perfect splash" around my front wheel well. That shot ended up on similar mail pieces that went into about 6 or 7 legislative districts where the candidates were running on platforms that included increased spending for road repairs.

I just spent some time the other day with a friend who's in charge of a county party organization, and they're doing similar stuff helping out some municipal and school board candidates with templates for websites and basic pass pieces. And apparently they did the same last year with county commission candidates where they had a deal with their printer that allowed them to use fairly standard templates for multiple pieces, which got their costs down to .5 cents per glossy, which is dirt cheap, especially considering we're talking about only unionized print shops.

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