Call it the Ocasio-Cortez effect. Or maybe it’s that desperate times call for more creative measures. Whatever it is, the wave of dramatic, professionally produced political ads that creatively tell a story, building its message in an Obama-like crescendo, has become a full-on trend among younger Democrat candidates. The latest is California Senate candidate Kevin de León. In his new spot, he tells the story of growing up with an immigrant mother who worked incredibly hard to afford him the opportunity to realize the American dream.
The passionate life story, establishing the foundation of one’s own work ethic bona fides, and attacking legacy Democratic candidates (in this case, Dianne Feinstein) is familiar to anyone who’s seen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s viral spot, or that of Hawaii congressional candidate Kaniela Ing. But here, de León then imagines if his story were happening in 2018, when families are being separated at the border and beyond, thanks to an increasingly aggressive enforcement of immigration laws. It’s jarring and all too easy to imagine in reality.
While it resembles the Ocasio-Cortez ad playbook created by Means of Production, the de León spot was made by the Win agency, which also worked with Cynthia Nixon on her campaign for New York governor, and Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign.
Not all candidates who have utilized this new style have won–Ing, Nixon, and Sanders, among them–but it’s clear that there’s been a fundamental creative shift in political advertising that likely won’t end in November.