Political Ad Campaign 2018: In the race for Congress, all eyes were on NY District 19 where right-wing Republican John Faso held a seat. This was one of the most hotly-contested races in the nation. We created this ad campaign for the PAC Catskills Freedom Network, to help unseat Faso and take back the House.
We started before the Democrats even had a candidate. Our goal was to create doubt about Faso in the timeframe where typically incumbents have the field all to themselves. We were not giving Faso that luxury. The second phase of the campaign started in September with Antonio Delgado as the Democratic candidate.
As we continued to attack Faso, Faso’s people unleashed what was called one of the most racist ad campaigns in the United States against Delgado.
We won. With every single county in the District moving towards blue, compared to two years earlier.
The campaign included cable TV, digital streaming, social media, radio, and billboards. Since we were able to micro-target audiences in social media, we used wildly different approaches to the message since One Size Does Not Fit All. People react very differently to ads and what works for one person does not work at all for the next. So our ads span the range from funny to snarky to uplifting to deadly serious. We aimed to hit Faso from every angle.
Faso’s single biggest mistake was being caught on camera promising a young woman named Andrea Mitchell that he would not repeal the Affordable Health Care act. He then voted to repeal it. We used a bystander’s cellphone footage of this moment and an off-the-cuff interview of Andrea at a Faso Town Hall to create “The Hug.” This same idea was then copied by the Delgado campaign and later by the DCCC when they spent nearly a million dollars to flood the airwaves in the last weeks before Election Day.
Do negative ads work? The answer is of course Yes AND No. Just as some people get outraged when a candidate’s awful deeds are exposed, others just do not like negativity in any form. For them we created this ad called “Yes.” Here our positive vision of the future is illustrated with some glorious aerial footage of the region.
Of all the ads we sent out into NY19, the ones featuring real people actually got the best response of all. One of Faso’s signature efforts was to undo New York’s Scaffold Law. Repealing the law benefited his Big Business donors at the expense of injured workers (naturally). We found a guy who worked on scaffolds who had no trouble expressing what he thought of Faso.
Soon after Antonio Delgado became the Democratic candidate opposing Faso, it came out that he had been a rap singer for awhile a decade earlier. The Faso PACs jumped on this and used every race-baiting trick they could muster in their ads, to turn people against Delgado, the Dangerous (black) Big City Rapper. We ran across a guy on Twitter who called himself DJ Faso who made a habit of responding to every Faso tweet with a derisive comment written in rap lyrics. We loved this, and thought the idea would be great in video. So with the blessing of DJ Faso, we created some videos of John Faso, Rap Star. Here’s one:
The current President said he would drain the swamp of lobbyists. This is one of the few things that almost everyone agrees on: no one likes lobbyists. That just happened to be John Faso’s occupation before he was in office. So seizing that notion, we encouraged anyone and everyone in New York District 19 to help in that noble effort.
Another idea that resonates well with people of all stripes (except maybe not pinstripes) is the idea of Big Business screwing the Little Guy. This also happened to be Faso’s stock in trade. He voted practically every single time on the side of Big Business who filled his pockets with contributions. Now that Faso is out of office, we are sure he will have no trouble finding a new job with his deep-pocketed friends, so don’t worry, he’ll be fine.
Aside from spreading our messages on social media, television and radio, we also created a billboard campaign. Billboards are one of our favorite mediums since it is one of the few ways to get a message across to every kind of person there is, regardless of political leanings, economic status, interests, or any other subcategory. Everyone sees billboards. The Pinocchio idea worked very well as it was easy to recognize even at high speed and said all you really needed to know about Faso.
In the end, against all odds, Delgado beat Faso, Faso went home after one term in office, and the House flipped Blue. It doesn’t get better than that.