March 2024 – Digital Ad Tips from 60 Super Tuesday Races

Digital Ad Tips from 60 Super Tuesday Races

It’s only March, but the Creative Team at COMPETE is already in full swing with primary contests nationwide. It’s going to be a wild ride this year, donations are going to be flowing, and races are going to be super competitive.

Not that it should ever be an afterthought, but this is not the year to let your creative assets slip. As the Director of Creative Production, I have my hands on every asset that runs through our firm and wanted to share some thoughts as you start to ramp up for primaries and the Big E in November.

Get Your Foundational Assets Moving Early!

Whether you’re working with a tighter budget and will mostly be working with still photos or a robust campaign needing a full production, it’s not too early to start scheduling shoots. We pride ourselves on being able to make magic out of just about anything, but the more your Creative Team has to work with, the better. I always encourage candidates to strive for as much variety as possible – wardrobe variations, diverse volunteers, location changes, headshots, group shots, happy, serious, the works. That way, when it comes time to build out scripts and content, we can be nimble in our approach based on the ground game. These assets will be used by more than just your Digital team–your mail, organic social media, email blasts, invites to fundraisers, and texting programs all need a healthy rotation of content to choose from!

Things are only going to get busier from here, and I’ve seen so many candidates slow-walk this part of things and then regret it as the campaign season intensifies. Check out some of the work we’ve done recently in our 2023 Highlight Reel:

By the way, did you know that we have a team of expert videographers and photographers that can be deployed anywhere in the country? We also do consultations, prep calls, and remote on-site assistance if you’re using local talent.

The Messaging Motto: Be Prepared (And Be Prepared to Pivot)

When you first begin to lay out your Digital plan and budget out Message Treatments (that’s what we call each set of video, native, and banners all connected to the same theme), I strongly encourage establishing a messaging matrix that will carry you through the campaign. Before the campaign starts to get clouded by opposition pieces, map out your Digital just like you map out your mail. If you have polling, respect the message testing and build a narrative that weaves through lines and consistent callbacks to previous statements. I’ve seen far too often campaigns fall into the trappings of knee-jerk messaging or impulsively moving a message forward just to refresh content. I write the majority of our scripts and spend an extraordinary amount of time reviewing the field, the winning messages, the path to victory, and a candidate’s voice and narrative. And in my unscientific opinion, the campaigns that examine the entire field and anticipate the messaging strategies for the duration of a campaign tend to get the best outcomes.

Here’s the result of one such messaging matrix for Julie Johnson, who emerged from a crowded primary not only first, but with enough votes to skip the runoff entirely:

Now that being said, there are always curveballs, right? Something changes on the ground game. Your opponent lobs an attack that warrants a rebuttal. In a perfect world, campaigns are all able to self-reflect and predict what might be coming and have something in their back pocket, but it’s not always a perfect world. You need a team at the ready who can analyze the urgency of the pivot, gut-check that being reactionary is the right response, and leap into action. Our Creative Team is a master of these rapid-response and pivot situations.

In the Julie Johnson race, this is exactly what happened (a few different times) and how we responded immediately:

The Critical Art of Standing Out:

Here’s what we know going into the rest of the Primaries and November:

  1. Political ads will be EVERYWHERE.
  2. Most Democrats will be messaging in a similar way, with similar priorities. Same goes for Republicans.
  3. Breaking through the noise of the internet and the daily doom scroll of your voters takes work, thought, and sometimes a little bravery.

I had a long conversation with my personal political Yoda and a Partner here at COMPETE, Keith Frederick today about this. Here are some of our thoughts as you prepare to create a winning creative strategy:

  1. Break out early and boldly. If your race is against similarly positioned or qualified candidates, we already know that most campaigns will lead with accomplishments, back things up with endorsements, and then weave some personal narrative in here and there. Think broadly about how your messaging strategy can own critical lanes and occupy that space creatively, thoughtfully, and in a way that goes beyond “In [Insert Position] I did this. Therefore, I’m the best.” 
  2. Branding, identity, and familiarity. Your online audience will subliminally start to recognize and build a positive or negative relationship with your imagery and iconography before they truly absorb a campaign’s message. As campaigns develop their visual guides, think about how your logo and brand will feel amidst a crowded swamp of candidates with similar designs. Think beyond the blue color palettes, red swooshes, and delicately placed stars to make sure your campaign’s identity is clear in each and every piece of visual creative you send out into the world.
  3. Input matters. It’s so easy to get into an echo chamber of political insiders and lose the pulse of the voters who will ultimately decide the success or failure of a campaign. We encourage campaigns to put together messaging strategies that encompass the totality of information.
  4. When in doubt, be authentic. The heart and voice of a campaign are in your candidate or cause. Your audience will be hearing (and tuning out) rhetoric all day long. Use your bona fides and lead with the elements of the campaign that truly stand out rather than forcing your message into a pre-existing box.

There’s plenty more we could chat about when it comes to developing your winning Digital creative strategy and building a team to get it done.

Our Creative Team is ready to help at any level. Get in touch if you’d like to talk about how we can help you on your path to victory!

Kimberly Ricci
Director of Creative Production


Skip to content