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The Idea Lab: US Election Special
The Idea Lab: US Election Special

In this edition, we look at the super-heavyweight bout that is the US Presidential Election. $1.5b has been spent between both candidates. That’s a lot of ads.

It’s a great arena to study because of the very specific and binary call to action (vote for me), and the very specific deadline. 


Republican Voters Against Trump: ‘Joey’

As well as the official campaigns, there are also countless independent operations. This video from Republican Voters Against Trump, is particularly effective. It is completely unpolished, looks like it was just done on a real voter’s phone (which it was), has the authenticity that that brings, and perfectly fits into the social media environment where it will predominantly appear. It achieves its strategic objective of giving permission to former Trump voters to switch to Biden this time.


Trump War Room: ‘Joe Biden is Bernie Sanders Trojan Horse’

This parody of the film Troy from the Trump campaign’s social media operation, Trump War Room, is not really aimed at persuading undecideds to vote for Trump: it is a crowd-pleaser for his base, and an attempt to troll Biden supporters. Trolling can be a very effective tactic: as the troll-ees react against it, and furiously share it, it increases engagement, which the social media algorithms love. 


Biden official campaign: ‘Everybody Let’s Vote’

This is an attempt by the Biden/Harris campaign to reach young voters, but it is almost a parody of such an ad – all bright colours and bouncy music. No substance. Patronising.


Go Vote: ‘Get Your Booty To The Poll’

This video from advocacy group, Go Vote, has become a big viral success, and you can see why. Aimed at convincing Black men to vote, the use of pole dancers as advocates is obviously attention-grabbing. But this allows them to smuggle in a quite sophisticated argument about the importance of down-ballot voting, as well as the presidential race. Warning: maybe NSFW.




Trump official campaign: ‘Carefully’

This is the closing argument for the Trump campaign. It is very untypical of the Trump campaign until now: it is positive, and deals with coronavirus – which the Trump campaign has been desperate to avoid as an election issue. 




Biden official campaign: ‘Vote For’

As the title suggests, this too is positive (as have been many Biden ads). Although the implicit critique of Trump is pretty obvious, he is not named here. It plays to Biden’s strengths as being seen as a decent man, and to the desire to unite the country.

The Idea Lab examines what makes effective (or ineffective) communications in the fields of causes, charities and socially-oriented businesses.

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