Presidential Launch Series: Warren & Sanders
Although the Iowa caucuses are a little over a year away (with the general election even further away), several Democrats are already launching campaigns to take on Donald Trump in 2020. From presidential exploratory committees to outright campaign launches, Democrats are eager to tell the American public why they’re qualified to run the country.
The launch of one’s presidential campaign sets the tone for the entire campaign — and it’s not just about big, splashy rallies and branded placards and yard signs. Successful candidates must also be mindful of how they’re campaigning digitally. This means the production and launch of a video to introduce your personal bio (disseminated on multiple channels across the web), a flashy new website showing off your campaign themes, fundraising emails ready in the hopper to raise you lots of dough, and online ads to help you build your email list, fundraise, and get your message out there.
In the spirit of good fun, our Email and Fundraising Team (composed of Sara Cederberg, Amy Libka, Mariel Brown-Fallon, and Evelyn Maidlow) thought it would be fun to share some thoughts on each candidate’s digital launch. Join us on this multi-part series as we talk through the strengths and weaknesses of each digital campaign launch, and be sure to comment with your own thoughts!
Mariel: I think my initial reaction to the video is that it was very biographical, very narrative-heavy, and basically like her entire stump speech that she would give to someone who wants to know what she’s about and I also think that she is trying to court any voter who’s interested in economic issues, because that was basically the whole rigged economy thing. I think that understanding how that is appealing to voters across the spectrum is really important because she has a lot of people to win, because she’s been so villainized by Republicans.
Amy: She definitely subtly tied it in with other issues, too.
Evelyn: Her messaging discipline is on point. She tells the same story every time. I can repeat it back. I love in her ads…”I never in a zillion years thought I was going to run for office…”
Amy: So folksy!
Evelyn: That is SO her. They just captured her voice perfectly. It really feels like her.
Amy: Love that they captioned the video. That was good.
Sara: That should be a no-brainer. I don’t know why it’s not. I really like the clear, simple, and crisp creative here and it’s definitely clear…the video was biographical and really strong and she just gives you a warm feeling. You just want to sit in her living room and talk for the rest of the afternoon. My only criticism is: did her dog appear in her launch video?!
Mariel: Also, this video was pretty long. It was four minutes.
Sara: Felt a little too long.
Amy: It also wasn’t a campaign launch video though, it was an exploratory launch and it went out super early.
Evelyn: And it was pushed out digitally.
Sara: It’s been interesting. I’ve gotten a lot of her ads, but they’ve been extremely issue-heavy. She’s definitely setting herself apart as the policy wonk, which fits her image. With the childcare plan, with the tax on billionaires plan, she’s already differentiating herself with these really bold plans and they’re being integrated into her Facebook ads, too.
Amy: That’s also a strategy to get as many people on her list as possible. With someone like Bernie, everyone is already talking about him. Everyone already knows who he is, so they’ll sign up for his email list. But for her, maybe you don’t sign up if it just says, “Elizabeth Warren is running for president,” but if it’s saying D.C. Statehood or something issue-heavy, people might be more interested.
Evelyn: I love in the official campaign launch announcement email there’s the donate box right at the top for the people that are already bought in. Super easy to make a quick donation. But then she does something a little different with this longform story about the story of Lawrence, where she announced her campaign.
Mariel: It’s really cool, yeah. So, yeah, she’s coming out of the gate saying this is about workers, and economic issues, and unions. That’s really good. Warren is one of the candidates whose ads I got almost immediately.
Sara: I feel like I haven’t seen as many, or I didn’t see them at first. I did just buy a dog collar from her for my dog, Ziggy, though, so I’ll probably start seeing more ads from her soon.
Evelyn: I like this progress bar that he incorporated in over one of the ads.
Amy: Creative. The tone of the images really match the tone of the video, I think.
Mariel: Yeah, also all of the images are from the last campaign, so it kind of puts people right back. It’s kind of like the continuity of his message–his is a thing that we started and we’re continuing it, so he’s basically treating it like it’s the same thing…it’s not really like a new campaign.
Evelyn: This ad that says, “Poll after poll shows that we are the best campaign to take on Donald Trump…” It’s like — the imagery is supposed to kind of scare competitors off with how established he is because you’re seeing him with crowds, you see the support, you saw the headlines, so it’s coming out really strong right out of the gate.
Sara: I do like the look and feel of the creative…it’s all very uniform…
Evelyn: Look at how big the text is! Isn’t that wild that he’s able to run ads with so much text on Facebook? I like the goal language in this ad, too…”…set a goal of 1 million people…”
Sara: The other thing that’s interesting about this creative, too. In contrast to the creative used in 2016, this creative feels more like he’s an established candidate. I don’t want to say establishment candidate, but it definitely feels almost more slick, professional.
Amy: His logo doesn’t have to be on there anymore!
Sara: Yeah! There’s an evolution in it that feels like growth.
Evelyn: This is like a reelection campaign. Like, “I’ve been President…” So on the donate ads, I love that he’s putting in the raw ActBlue Express Donate links into the post text. I think that was very savvy.
Sara: With Bernie, I don’t think he needs to talk about anything specific. With these launches, there’s a very clear message. But with his base, the people he’s trying to reach with those donate ads, he doesn’t need to talk about what he stands for. People know.
Evelyn: He doesn’t have to sell himself here.