Presidential Launch Series: Buttigieg & Booker
Although the Iowa caucuses are a little under a year away (with the general election even further away), several Democrats are already launching campaigns to take on Donald Trump in 2020. Join us on this series as we talk through the strengths and weaknesses of each digital campaign launch. Next in the series is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
Evelyn: I love that video!
Amy: I like it, but it just ended so suddenly.
Evelyn: I think it was savvy…if he’s going to put his money somewhere, to put it into the video. I think that was smart. Hopefully will drum up some excitement for him and then turn it into something. And that was a really good video! Talk about Trump winning the midwest? Well, that’s the response video.
Amy: No one else is talking about young people like Pete is.
Sara: The narrative arc of that video feels so much like John Fetterman’s LG launch video. Talking about a dying city. The things that Trump says. Driving in the car. It was great, though. Wow, they didn’t even mention that he’s gay. He’s a veteran. They barely talked about his bio. Just more about his vision and where’s he from, that sort of thing. Interesting strategy.
Mariel: It was really great. I love that he focused on young people. I think that’s super important. Again, he didn’t really name a common enemy, which was interesting. I feel like when you don’t do that, it’s hard to get people’s fire lit.
Amy: I feel like his whole thing is that his perspective is different than anyone else. Him being from the midwest and then the economic development that he’s done and him being a little bit younger and seeing mass shootings and all of things that we have to deal with…that’s what sets him apart.
Evelyn: It’s an apolitical ad. Actually, the common enemy seems to be like…old people. He’s talking about it in terms of a generational divide.
Sara: Yeah, without directly saying it. And definitely the interviews he’s been doing and some of the emails, it does feel very much like he’s broadcasting that he’s the millennial running because we need more millennials to step up and try.
Evelyn: His video…and I know it’s the classic trope of laying out what the problem is and get people scared and then swoop in as the superhero…but his video is the only one that truly disturbed me at the beginning. When he talks about a dying city…that’s pretty earth-shattering, you know? You’re looking at the urban decay and it felt like the problems were very close to home in this video.
Amy: And saying that we can’t go back or do nothing.
Sara: And of all the declared candidates…Pete and Amy Klobuchar are the only midwesterners. Yeah, Mayor Pete is definitely talking about things in terms of the economic decline.
Evelyn: One interesting thing is that Pete isn’t running ads. I’m sure he doesn’t have the money to invest, but he’s not going to make money without running those Facebook donate ads. His launch email was good, though. I like his line, “What will America look like in 2054, when I reach the age of the current president? How will we look back on 2020? Really leaning into being the millennial.
Amy: So fascinating that he was the first openly gay municipal executive in Indiana when Mike Pence was just their governor.
Sara: I have a special place in my heart for those midwestern mayors!
Evelyn: Final thoughts on Pete?
Amy: I liked the video.
Sara: The video was great. The emails have been good–I don’t think they’re sending enough, considering that’s their only revenue stream right now.
Evelyn: I would love to see under the hood on this campaign.
Evelyn: One of my favorite videos.
Amy: I love that video. The drumline being the only music is so good.
Sara: Yeah, captions were fire, too. I like how they alternated from the bottom of the screen to different parts of the screen.
Amy: It definitely gave a unique feel to who he is.
Mariel: It was also just beautifully written and it got me really excited. It didn’t make a villain out of Wall St. It really was, like, let’s feel collective power. It didn’t really make a villain out of anyone, so that was an interesting approach. It was more about being excited about what we can do together. I thought that was a stark difference from some other campaign videos.
Evelyn: I like with his ads how he leans on the use of black and white photos, and him looking off into the middle distance looking hopeful, and then here he is marching for voter enfranchisement. He’s really looking to place himself in history and show himself as this historical figure, which I think is a powerful thing to do when you’re running for president. It shows you’re already kind of this mythological figure.
Amy: His video talks about his family trying to move to a new neighborhood with great schools and how they were blocked because of the color of their skin. It was a quick signal about the history of our country and what’s been going on.
Evelyn: He doesn’t really talk about the issues at all in his ads.
Sara: His ad creative feels a bit all over the place. Some of it is using his logo, some of it is using just simple pictures, and then some of it is this very simple hero image style. That drives me a little crazy because there isn’t a sense of uniformity, so I wish they would decide on one kind of thing. Maybe they were trying a number of different things and that was part of their testing.
Evelyn: I notice that Elizabeth Warren is using a simple border around a lot of her ads. I think that’s a really good visual cue and helps maintain consistency around her ads.
Sara: I like the black and white scheme with the ‘Chip In’ text. To me, I wouldn’t always immediately know that these are his just by looking at the creative.
Amy: It’s interesting to me that everything in his video is that really bold sans-serif and then his ads have the thin serif font. I’m confused and I don’t recognize it as his. A lot of candidates will stick to a consistent font.
Mariel: Oh yeah, and some words are all-caps and others aren’t.
Sara: One other thing I noticed about Cory are his donate ad videos that are more low-key and not heavily produced. That’s more on-brand for me because he’s always done that and so I hope they do more of that. When I think of Cory Booker, I think of someone who is very active on social media, does the videos. He was kind of like the AOC of the Senate before AOC–sharing goofy videos, like he shared a video of Stabenow and Peters singing karaoke on a bus.
Amy: One more thing about the video that I thought was funny: they had a scene in a barbershop, but he’s already bald! He did not need a haircut!
Evelyn: Let’s look at the launch email. This was another longer-style launch email, bio heavy, with a donate ask at the bottom with a button.
Amy: The bolded parts of the email are a bigger font.
Sara: I was curious about that, too. Interesting.
Evelyn: I do love that he gets into his full bio here and the email is longer.