Brands in the News

Trump’s Powerful Attack Ad

13 Aug , 2020  

We are heading into election season! This means there will be a lot of political advertising to look at. Over the next several months I will be reviewing the spots. My focus will be effectiveness: will the ad actually work? Will it sway voters?

I will keep my political views out of the analysis. I have my preferred candidate, of course, but my goal is not to support one candidate or the other. It is simply to consider the spots, evaluate them, and identify learnings that marketers can apply to their own business.

Trump’s Latest Spot

My first spot to evaluate is one from Donald Trump, attacking Joe Biden. The spot is called “In His Own Words” and it features video clips of Joe Biden. You can watch it here. The ad leads off with this statement from Biden, “If you elect me, your taxes are gonna be raised, not cut.” Later it shows Biden promising “Citizenship for 11 million undocumented folks.”

The spot is quite direct. It explains that Biden’s plan will result in higher taxes for middle-class families, small businesses, and seniors, and 11 million illegal immigrants competing for American jobs and getting free healthcare.

The ad ends with the line, “America can’t afford Joe Biden.”

My Assessment

This is a powerful ad.

My colleague Derek Rucker developed a framework for evaluating advertising called ADPLAN. It stands for attention, distinction, positioning, linkage, amplification, and net equity. I like the framework, and we use it in the Kellogg Super Bowl Ad Review (you can see the 2020 results here).

The latest Trump ad scores well. It isn’t flashy, but it attracts attention. The branding is apparent. Most important, the message is very clear – Biden will raise taxes and give citizenship to illegal aliens, and all this will make life more difficult for families. There is no question about what people will remember or amplify. The positioning comes through clearly.

Biden and Harris will need to respond to this type of attack, because if Trump invests heavily in the message voters may pause before supporting a change.

One Response

  1. Thom Disch says:

    I like this approach of reviewing political ads on their effectiveness. I look forward to more reviews!

Leave a Reply


Conversation Across the Site

  • emitahill { Although it wasn't classroom experiences, nonetheless I did a lot with zoom in the past months including giving public talks, leading discussions, joining with friends... }
  • GTPlaza { "This blog is really informative, Thank You! for sharing this information. I have also bookmarked your blog. Global Trade Plaza DM ( ) Top... }
  • emitahill { In your description of the Trump brand for the Republicans you don't mention the push back on access to voting which will of course keep... }
  • David Rose { This sounds very very difficult. You put alot of energy into it and obviosly care. I would suggest you focus on the room and let... }
  • M E Lesniak { I think you picked the wrong hill to stand on. You work at one of the most expensive degree factories in the country and I’m... }
  • Stephen Calkins { Forgiveness based on income? What if it is a wealthy family that figured borrowing cheaply was a good deal, but there is massive wealth? What... }
  • Read more Comments »

Collaborate with Tim

Tim helps companies around the world build great brands. To schedule a program or event click here. To learn more about Tim’s books, click here.