Brands in the News

Ad Review: Trump Embraces the Police

31 Aug , 2020  

There is nothing like a crisp strategy. I love seeing great marketing, and effective campaigns are grounded in strategic thinking.

Donald Trump has a tight strategy heading into the election, and he is executing on it in a new ad out this week. Like the last Trump spot I reviewed, this one works pretty well.

The Strategy

Donald Trump is apparently building his campaign around two messages. First, Trump will build the economy and lower taxes. Second, Trump supports the police and is against disorder and violence.
Trump talks about his plans and contrasts them with Joe Biden’s. Trump points out that Biden will raise taxes and suggests that Biden will embrace rioters and looters. According to Donald, there are dark days ahead if Biden and Harris win.

There are two insights behind this effort. First, it is powerful to frame a decision as a clear choice between two different visions. Trump is suggesting that a vote for him will lead to safety and growth. A vote for Biden will lead to disorder and taxes.

Second, people care about decency and integrity, but at the end of the day benefits matter most. Trump is betting on the fact that people will claim to support Biden, but will ultimately go for the candidate that promises a better outcome.

The Ad

This week, the Preserve America PAC, a special interest group supporting Trump, is rolling out a new ad called Alyssa featuring the widow of police offer shot and killed in the line of duty. You can watch the spot here.

The widow, Alyssa Cordova, speaks earnestly and directly. She states, “I don’t want my kid to ever be afraid to honor their Dad.” She eventually delivers the key line, “I haven’t heard Job Biden stand-up for law enforcement, which says a lot. You are part of the problem.” She then frames up the choice, “How do we want to raise our children? Do we want to raise them in a situation where there is law and order, or do we want to raise them in chaos?”

The spot is effective. It attracts attention and is distinctive. The benefit, the message, is clear. It is remarkable that Donald Trump isn’t mentioned by name in the spot, presumably because people already know Trump’s position. The goal here is to attack Biden.

The Outlook

This tight, focused ad will reinforce Trump’s core and perhaps sway some voters. I expect that we will see it run heavily in the weeks ahead, with similar ads to come.

Joe Biden has to find a way to defend against this sort of advertising. If Biden loses the safety argument, he will have trouble winning the election. While voters will say they care about character, safety is a higher priority for many.



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  • Emita Hill { Sobering but all accurate. Happy Thanksgiving, Tim. }
  • Mark Goldman { Disagree wholeheartedly. National unity and bringing back civility to our country is most certainly a benefit -- and a strong one. Trump's pitch on law... }
  • Lisa { Tom Elmer you clearly need to put glasses on. The Democrat Governors were hired to keep citizens safe. President Trump handles federal. The Governors failed... }
  • Paulo Machado { Very good, Tim. You have been of great help and inspiration for me. Regards from Brazil. }
  • emitahill { Sounds like a great job. Your students are lucky to have you. }
  • Bhavish { Hi Professor, Great analysis. I have always thought that attack ads are not enough. It is very important for voters to see why Biden is... }
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