Ad Review: Biden Ups His Game

10 Sep 2020  

Joe Biden is out with a new spot, and if it is any indication, he might make this a competitive election after all.

The Biden Struggle

Those of you that have been following these political ad reviews know that I think Joe Biden has been struggling to find a strategic focus. He has run ads talking about character and values but has failed to do two critical things: communicate a benefit and define the choice.

The New Spot

Biden’s new spot, released this week, is quite different. The sixty-second ad begins with a gray picture of the White House and explains that this is a chance to end the darkness, anger and violence of the last four years.

The spot then rolls into a series of benefits – Biden is focused on getting control of the virus, helping working families, taking the next step in healthcare, dealing with climate change and protecting social security. The ad also notes that the wealthy and corporations will pay more.

You can watch the ad here.

My Assessment

This is a strong spot from the Biden camp. It isn’t perfect, but it is tighter and more focused than previous efforts.

First, the spot sets up a clear contrast between the past and the future. I think this is one of Biden’s strongest platforms – the past four years have been dreadful, especially the past 12 months. Under Biden things will be different. He doesn’t even have to promise the world. At this point, something different seems pretty good.

Second, the ad doesn’t just focus on Trump – it also goes after the wealthy and corporations. This again is a smart idea. Donald Trump has been exceptionally good at identifying the “bad guys.” Four years ago it was immigrants and ISIS. Now it is looters and leftist extremists. Biden should copy his approach and go after the billionaires and corporations.

Third, the spot communicates benefits. Biden will work on climate change, protect social security, improve healthcare and get control of the virus. Benefits like this really matter.

Biden’s approach to the virus is particularly strong. He promises to get control of the virus, something Trump hasn’t done. Biden doesn’t explain precisely how he will do this, and that is both fine and smart. The details can come later.

The only problem? Biden is doing everything at the same time. There is simply too much going on in this spot: too many benefits, too many approaches.

The Outlook

It seems like the Biden camp has realized they need to do things in a different way and up their marketing thinking. Now they just need the discipline and restraint to keep the messages sharp and focused.

1 Response

  1. Bhavish says:

    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 the right choice(or not). And the only way to do that is show his vision in the ads and probably compare them to Trump’s. I would seriously like to see ads where he lays out his plans. Like one ad with 2 or 3 main points about his healthcare agenda followed by (a) who would it benefit (b) how they will pay for it (c) what are the long term benefits. It is hard to pack all this info in a 90-sec ad but I think its doable.
    And he could repeat this for other policy agendas. This was one ad that I liked where he uses numbers to drive home the point (https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1306975013355089922?s=20).
    Yet another one I thought was a “punch to the gut” was this ad! (https://twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/1307491919384260609?s=20).

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