The Trump campaign has finally decided to put some of their war chest to work with television ads in ten crucial swing states. The first ad out of the gate is a surprisingly upbeat ad with a positive economic message from the Trump brain trust. I hate to admit it but we may look back on the Trump campaign as the model of how to run for President in the modern age. Research suggests that spending big dollars on campaign ads before Labor Day is a waste of money. Experts in politics and communications point out that only the hardened political junkies are paying attention and the vast majority of them have already made up their minds. But then again, political ads aren’t for the cheerleaders or the party faithful. Ads tend to target the undecideds and those voters who aren’t invested either way. This election is like no other in history so perhaps the way the campaigns approach it should be similarly ground breaking.
In the early years of television, it can be argued that campaign ads played a much larger role. You might even say that television ads swung the 1960 election in favor of John Kennedy who was much more “telegenic” than Richard Nixon. With the advent of cable television and the proliferation of stations, not to mention the 24 hour cable news networks, television’s role in deciding elections has diminished. Now with the advent of the digital age and the internet, there are even more ways to reach voters.
It is difficult to go on to any website these days without seeing a Trump ad and to a lesser extent a Clinton ad. The Trump campaign has been very active on digital media and on social networks like facebook and twitter throughout the summer and now gearing up to the election they are beginning to target middle America through their idiot boxes. It’s a strategy that just might work. It certainly has been cost effective and let’s face it Donald Trump has always known how to get free media coverage. Two weeks ago, Hillary Clinton had a double digit lead in the polls. The only problem with that is the election is not held in mid-August. The polls are now starting to tighten and if Mr. Trump’s staff can wrangle him and he does not show his true colors at the debates, that with an effective TV commercial or two could make this a horse race.