Brands in the News

Political Ad Review: Biden and Dogs – The Election’s Defining Ad

17 Oct , 2020  

Every once in a while you come across a piece of advertising that somehow perfectly fits the moment. These usually aren’t the most rational ads, or the most entertaining.

For George Bush, it was Ashley’s Story, a simple yet remarkable spot that somehow made sense of an entire election. Why vote for George Bush? Because he will keep us safe.

The Shifting Debate

This year, the election has been a wild ride. In the summer, it seemed that Donald Trump was poised to win in November by focusing on law and order and reminding everyone that Joe Biden would raise taxes.

Recently, those arguments have lost resonance. The looting seems years ago, and protests have faded away. Even Portland isn’t getting much attention. Are people still protesting in Portland?

The virus then shifted the discussion, with Trump’s infection reminding everyone just how out of control the pandemic really is. If Donald Trump isn’t safe, well, who is?

Now, however, Trump is back on the campaign trail and looking none the worse for the experience, so his infection is fading as a top of mind issue.

The Dog Question

Which brings us to an ad about dogs.

The gentle, sweet spot, released recently by a group called Dog Lovers for Joe, shows former presidents with their dogs. There is Ronald Regan with Lucky, George Bush with Millie, Bill Clinton with Buddy and George W. Bush with Barney. You can watch the spot here.

The ad then notes: “Trump is the first president without a dog in over a century.” Instead, the spot shows Donald Trump mocking dog owners, “How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?”

At the end of the ad, there is a photo of Joe Biden and his dog Champ.

Why It Works

I suspect few people are going to pick a president based on dog ownership. There are lot of other important issues to consider and think about, especially this year.

But this simple spot communicates so much more. It points out that Donald Trump is not like other presidents. Every other president had a dog. Not Trump. He is not normal. Of course, Trump breaks the mold in so many ways. He is sarcastic and rude. His personal style is completely different from other leaders.

The ad also indirectly suggests that Trumps lacks the kindness that comes from caring for dogs. He doesn’t understand why people like dogs. He doesn’t appreciate loyalty. He can’t return affection. He lacks basic empathy.

When we look back at the election and the likely Biden victory, I suspect we will point to this spot as the one that most elegantly and effectively defined the choice. At a time when the world is a dangerous, uncertain and dark place, perhaps the one thing people can agree on is that we need a president that has a dog.

 



Leave a Reply

Archives

Conversation Across the Site

  • 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... }
  • Todd Holscher { Transparency in pricing is a very good idea. Students will still susceptible to the influence of marketing and advertising by colleges, but it’s the right... }
  • Emita Hill { Vast sums of money. Alternatively provide more support to state schools so they can lower tuition and maybe to privates strictly for scholarships. }
  • David Rose { Tim, I dont think your views are balanced. You obviously are being paid by these loans. The money has been given to your university and... }
  • 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.