Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced his presidential candidacy in 2020 with a new ad that combines the story of his upbringing, his political values and aspirations, and the passion in his take on how to mend an increasingly diverging nation. The combination of style and copywriting will give some viewers goosebumps. It’s as if Nike decided to sell a politician instead of sneakers. Even the tagline has a swooshy ring to it.
The key to any great ad is emotion. For most of our lives, political advertising has been rightly viewed as less than effective. There have been standouts over the years, notably Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America,” and Obama’s campaign certainly improved the standard. But overall, thanks to a stale formula starring mostly wooden personalities, politics has generally maintained its place somewhere between snake oil and 3 a.m. infomercial on the ad-quality spectrum.
Ahead of the midterms last year, however, we started to see a shift, beginning with the fantastic ad for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The production team behind that also made notable spots for Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) (and the ultimately unsuccessful congressional bid by Hawaiian candidate Daniela Ing).
Booker has taken this new formula and made his own version. Many may be inspired to get involved. Others, however, may need more convincing.
.@CoryBooker seems to be making a bet that those who fear America changing too fast can be brought into common cause with those who fear it not changing fast enough.
It is a hard bet. But it may be the bet that saves us, if more of us make it.
Below, from a speech I gave once. pic.twitter.com/XlyaX5i09X
— Anand Giridharadas (@AnandWrites) February 1, 2019