● The Effectiveness of Television: Morris notes that despite 80% of advertising dollars being spent in the swing states, they only registered a 0.3% change from 2008. From this, he concludes that television ads don’t work. What he’s missing, however, is 2010. Had this election occurred in 2010, Romney would have blown Obama away in those same swing states. What changed between 2010 and 2012 was that in 2011, Obama began running negative ads against Romney in those swing states. This was before Romney had even won the primary. The result of this was that Romney’s negatives were 10% higher in targeted states like Ohio, than they were in demographically similar states like Pennsylvania. In other words, Obama’s negative spending was able to wipe out the gains of 2010. That’s effective.
Where Morris IS correct is that neither side was able to move themselves forward with their own ads. . . they were only able to tear the other guy down. But rather than buying into Morris’ sweeping declaration, let me suggest that the problem was the ads, not the idea of the ads. Here’s why they failed:
● Negativity. Colorado was awash in ads. I saw them all. And only one ad truly struck me as something that made me hopeful for a candidate, and that was an ad Obama ran in the last 3-4 days. Before that, neither candidate gave me any reason to support them. Compare that to corporate America. They invest millions to come up with great ways to make you want their products. They rarely tear down a competitor, because that doesn’t make you want their product, and if they do, it’s just to compare themselves... “we’re faster.” Neither Romney nor Obama did that. There were almost no positive ads, and none of the negative ads offered you a positive alternative. It was basically Coke running ad after ad claiming that Pepsi is made from yak urine. How does that sell Coke?This is why the television ads didn’t work. The next candidate needs to learn to see himself as a product and sell himself like he would a new electronic device or new car. Target consumers. Use a complete, creative campaign. And sell yourself, don’t waste your time tearing down the other guy... let the PACs do that.
● Oversaturation. Even the best ads become grating when you see them 500 times and turn people off. If you’re going to spend the money, make a lot more ads.
● Untargeted ads. Advertising is very carefully done to reach specific target audiences. New adapters are told a product is edgy and daring. The sheep who think they’re wolves are told they need the product to separate themselves from the herd. And the rest of the sheep are told they better get with it or the herd will leave them behind. Romney and Obama ran ads with zero targeting. They both simply recited “facts” in either happy or menacing ways. This made them useless because they “spoke” to no one.
● Outreach: A decade ago, the NFL realized it had a problem. Kids weren’t watching the NFL and their market share was slipping. They set out to change that. They created a campaign to encourage kids to exercise, which just happened to use sports stars who pimped the NFL in the process. They paid for equipment for youths. They teamed with celebrities and they advertised. Their rating soared. The Republicans need to learn from this lesson. They need to start offering reasons for people to look to them as a positive force in their lives and not just as a political party. Let me suggest the following:
● GOP Health. Every organization I know offers a group health plan. AARP does it. State Bar’s do it. Colleges do it. There is power in pooling. Why doesn’t the GOP do this for its 80 million members? They should have more than enough clout to get great rates, which will (1) give people a reason to join the party, (2) afford the GOP constant/free advertising as people get fliers or whatnot under the program, and (3) give people a reason to see the GOP as a force for good in their lives. This will help immensely when it comes time to vote, especially with small businesses and young workers with lousy jobs.It is time to think about how to attract people year round and to give them a reason to stick with the party long term. The above would do an effective job in terms of outreach, generating good will, and ensuring constant positive advertising.
● GOP Education. There are banks that will set up education savings accounts which let you put money in pre-tax accounts to be used for tuition. Again, the GOP should partner with banks to offer such plans to its members. This does the exact same thing as above and it shows the GOP’s concern with reducing the cost of college. This will help parents and young people.
● Get Out The Vote: This election proved that both sides were horrible at getting out the vote. Once again, the Democrats appear better at handling election day, but neither party really scored because they basically relied on millions of annoying cold calls. This needs to be re-thought. I propose this:
● Technology. Invest in computers to ensure better targeting. (Proven technology, not secretive ad hoc crap like Romney tried.) There is no reason I should have received 10 calls a night, and certainly not after I voted. Party workers should know who is registered and who isn’t, who has been contacted and who hasn’t, and what their demographics are.This is how modern billion-dollar campaigns need to be run. Join the modern world GOP. Learn from corporate America. They know how to sell. . . you don’t. Learn that a campaign needs to be run year round, every year, not just once every four years. Get professional guidance from corporate marketing specialists, not political hacks. And never forget, there is a science to all of this. . . it’s not an art.
● Registration. Here’s the real key. Rather than waste money on phone calls and television advertising, the party needs to send volunteers house to house to every unregistered voter in center-right neighborhoods across the country and ask them in person to register. WHEN THEY DO, sign them up immediately to vote by mail. The ballots will come to them automatically. You can then call these people (who are now in your computer) a few days after the ballots get mailed out and ask them to vote. The return on investment on this will be huge! Why? Because (1) it happens before the “real” campaign starts, so it’s easier to influence them, (2) you have made face to face contact and you can provide them with information they need to be won over, (3) they are much more likely to mail in a ballot than take the time to go vote, and (4) the ballots will keep coming for each election thereafter. This is the real no-brainer which the Republicans need to focus on. Forty percent of the nation doesn’t turn out to vote, this can address that. Stop thinking of elections in 1950s terms... embrace change and exploit it.
● Switch to Mail from Phone Contact. You seed to send fliers, not make phone calls if you want to reach people. Fliers don’t annoy people like phone calls. They also let people choose their own time to think about the race. BUT... make sure these fliers are unique, like a puzzle game or mystery or contest, to get people to read them. Be creative! Moreover, target your voters – first time voters, swing voters, reliable voters, old people, married people, single people, minorities.... they should all receive different campaigns. Companies do it because it works. We should too.
● Election Day. Finally, this is when you do the things campaigns normally do, like helping old people get to the polls, calling people to remind them to vote and asking people to bring their friends. And if you've done the registration part right, you will have a lot more time to do this right because 50%+ of your voters will already have voted.
Anything I missed?