Presidential Launch Series: O’Rourke and Biden
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.
Amy: This was the first video I have wanted to stop watching.
Evelyn: Agreed, it goes on way too long.
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.
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: The one thing I will say is that 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.
Evelyn: So one thing that he did do 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.
Evelyn: If people were really that excited and waiting to hear his announcement, wouldn’t they already be on his email list? So who were these for?
Sara: 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 very lengthy.
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 folkiness on his Senate run came from his roadtrips and visiting every county…getting very deep into Texas. He won’t be able to do that on a Presidential run. I wonder how he’ll pivot into something broader.
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.
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.
Evelyn: Agree on MAGA vibes, in the sense that it’s a campaign that is looking backwards and more nostalgic.
Amy: Right. Very different from some candidates running on future plans, though.
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!”
Evelyn: Oh good call out. Looks like he’s using the ‘Become a Founding Member’ gimmick. I find that to be somewhat played out, but given that he already has a following, perhaps it worked well for them here.
Mariel: I think they are keeping their messaging very crisp across the board. It’s all Donald Trump all the time.