Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pawlenty’s new ad – a good job; Kennedy's . . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 9:11 AM |  

Nothing dazzling, but, in my opinion, this is what a political ad ought to be. It takes one issue and contrasts Pawlenty and Mike Hatch, without demonizing Hatch and detracting from the message. Sure it spins in Pawlenty’s favor and reduces the issue of a cap on property taxes to a sound bite. But laying out the details are what press releases and debates are for.

And that's where political advertising falls apart. Campaigns tend to view television and radio ads as individual events rather than building blocks of an integrated campaign. Pawlenty's ad talks about a property tax cap -- where is the flood of information from his campaign on the details?

Instead of yet another release about Mike Hatch flip-flopping on the designated hitter rule or whatever, Pawlenty’s ad should have been preceded by a release with the detail on which the ad is based and the detail of Pawlenty’s property tax cap plan. How does it fit in his overall plan for the next term?

Before any campaign runs an ad, their first question should be, “How will this play on WCCO’s Reality Check?” Anticipate the objections and commentary and address them up front before the media has a chance to spin it. By doing so, the campaign frames press opinion and influences the questions reporters ask and sets the boundary of the debate. That’s basic PR.

[Free Advice: Pawlenty should have had one person on his campaign staff, a good one, take the role of the Strib editorial board, and write a "Strib" editorial following every debate, speech, public statement and toss it back to the campaign staff and have them address it before the Strib has a chance to do the real thing.]

Update: Just watched Kennedy's latest. It's Kennedy's ad, but it's all about Amy Klobuchar. The press release mimics the ad --

"The two things we've heard from Ms. Klobuchar throughout this campaign are complaints and hypocrisy. We’ve heard Ms. Klobuchar rail against lobbyist, yet she spent 12 years as a lobbyist. We’ve heard Ms. Klobuchar demonize oil company profits, yet her largest mutual fund holding is ExxonMobil. We’ve heard Ms. Klobuchar rail against special interests, yet her campaign has received over $565,000 from a special interest group that funnels money from across the country to extremely liberal candidates. The voters of Minnesota don’t need a Senator who says one thing but does another.”

The argument for this kind of ad is that it defines one's opponent. It does, but it defines her personally, not politically -- unlike the Pawlenty ad, which set up a clear political contrast with Mike Hatch. What am I to contrast between Kennedy and Klobuchar based on this ad?

From the ad, I have no idea how Kennedy thinks about lobbyists, members in congress making investments or special interest money. The last line quoted from the press release implies that Minnesota needs a Senator that does what he/she says. Kennedy might want to look at the inconsistencies in his education and energy policies before putting that statement out.

I too hope for a senatorial candidated that means what he says, but first he has to say something that means something.