Presidential Launch Series: O’Rourke and Biden

 In Political Campaigns, Presidential Launch Blog Series

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. This is the last post in our series as we’ve talked through the strengths and weaknesses of each digital campaign launch. Here are the big takeaways from the launch videos of former Congressman Beto O’Rourke and Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Beto O’Rourke

Amy: This was the first video I have wanted to stop watching.

Mariel: I think the simplicity of the video is obviously congruent with the way he ran his Senate campaign and the way he was so accessible on social media.

Evelyn: Yep

Mariel: But I think that it assumes a lot. It assumes that people are already bought in. 

Amy: Yes, it assumes that people want to listen to him talk in a setting like this.

Mariel: It assumes he doesn’t really have to do anything different, and I think that that is a really bold assumption.

Evelyn: It doesn’t look like he used this video in any of his launch ads, so it was almost like a ‘limited release’ push. I think he released it to his email list and on his Facebook page. One thing that was really interesting is that his version of lead ads were actually, “Sign up to hear about my 2020 plans,” instead of more traditional issue-based acquisition.

Amy: I thought that was smart, but also, I made the conscious decision not to sign up because–whatever his decision is–I’ll end up knowing about it anyways.

Sara: Piggybacking off of what Mariel said, I feel like that assumes a lot again. The ad with the checklist that says, “We accomplished so much” is probably the most substantive.

Mariel: His creative is really good. The black logo is very unique and it stands out. I can tell it’s all his.

Evelyn: I like that all the photos are from the rally he had when he was running for Senate. Another interesting lead ad strategy was this ad where he asks people to endorse him by adding their email. I thought that was a nice little twist.

Amy: But again, that assumes a lot.

Sara: Obama ran similar ads in 2012, though he was the incumbent President!

Evelyn: He’s definitely spending most of his Facebook budget on donate ads. The copy is longer than we’d typically see.

Sara: Which I’ve always liked. That’s very much his brand, so it makes sense.

Amy: It looks like he’s trying to bring his family more into this, which is different than his Senate campaign. I don’t feel like he’s doing it particularly well.

Evelyn: Final thoughts on Beto?

Sara: You definitely know his creative is his.

Amy: Definitely a good decision to keep his logo. But, this is going to be four straight years of this. Almost similar to Bernie. When he first ran, we had never seen anything like him before–and now we have. 

Evelyn: I’ll be interested to see how his campaign style changes. His folksiness on his Senate run came from his roadtrips and visiting every county…getting very deep into Texas. I wonder how that’ll change in a country-wide race.

Amy: The other thing is that everyone who’s running for President learned from Beto in 2018. So everyone is going to be using Facebook Live. Everyone.

Joe Biden

Amy: It definitely doesn’t seem like he’s trying to reinvent the wheel here—reciting the Constitution at the beginning is an interesting choice to me in an age when we’re all told to grab the audience’s attention in the first 3-6 seconds. This video, with Biden on the screen almost the entire time and narrating the whole thing, also stands in stark contrast to me with videos like Bernie’s—which was more cinematic and had a lot of outside validators & news clips. 

Evelyn: I like the video. The music was really good and the narration was well done. I particularly liked the newspaper headline graphic that was semi-transparent. I think the rhetoric of Charlottesville makes sense. 

Amy: Also, I’m getting some interesting MAGA vibes—not Trump’s MAGA, but looking back to the founding tenets of the U.S., back to the Obama administration, back to the Civil Rights era, back to the American Dream. As far as the ads, it seems like he’s definitely running on his name recognition alone.

Mariel: Joe Biden is a friendly and familiar face, and it kind of seemed like he was narrating a documentary about Charlottesville to comfort us. I totally understand that that was a pivotal moment in seeing how terrible Trump truly is so I get why he focused on it, but coupled with the slow narrative and him sitting, it lacked energy that a lot of the others had.

Evelyn: I think the ads are really nice—very savvy to use photos of him as VEEP. You know I always love borders! Oh, and, the mix of black and white photographs is a nice touch.

Amy: Yep! No issues though! Just “Join Joe!”

Mariel: I think they are keeping their messaging very crisp across the board. It’s all Donald Trump all the time.


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