Selling the Democratic Brand

Why is it that every election season the airwaves are clogged with campaign ads for specific candidates, but we almost never see ads for a political party itself? No doubt it’s because TV ads are wildly expensive, and party leaders would rather put that money toward winning specific races.

Fair enough, but one of the biggest problems Democrats have, in our opinion, is that voters don’t really know what we stand for, in the same way they know that Republicans stand for lower taxes, guns, “family values,” freedom from government intrusion, etc.

We believe that well-done Democratic branding ads would be tremendously effective, especially in key swing states. They would help not just specific candidates but all candidates, by putting the election in a broader context and reminding voters about the values and American traditions Democrats believe in:

  • Helping the American worker
  • Fighting for the underdog
  • Helping people in need
  • The right to follow our own conscience and beliefs
  • Fairness and equality for everyone

These ads would serve two critically important purposes:

  1. Establishing the Democratic brand. They would create a positive identity for Democrats in the minds of moderate and independent voters. And they would promote loyalty and pride among Democrats. Americans like to feel good about their votes, and they would feel better if they are voting not just for a candidate but for a cause, a belief system, a strong and proud political party. Voters need to know what Democrats stand for and the long, proud history of the party in supporting working Americans and the poor.
  2. Contradicting destructive Republican memes. In the battle for American hearts and minds, something must be done to counteract the powerful Fox News and right-wing memes that, for many voters, are already accepted and unchallenged “facts”:
    • The country is going to hell.
    • Republicans are the party of fiscal responsibility.
    • Government must be cut dramatically.
    • Democrats are tax-and-spend liberals.

    The relentlessness of these Republican truisms has to be countered, and right now they’re not in any visible way. The occasional Meet the Press interview will not get the job done (and even then, Democrats aren’t doing much to fight these memes).

A national branding campaign may never happen, but imagine, in our fantasy world, a series of ads featuring interviews with average American workers saying why they vote Democratic (and why they wouldn’t vote Republican): ranchers and farmers, factory workers, young military veterans-many of the types of voters Democrats are hoping to sway.

Or they could be scripted ads, something like this one-minute commercial:

Title: “Democratic Voices”
Length: :60
Client: Democratic National Committee
Campaign: Democratic Party Branding

Production note: Speakers should be actual workers, not actors

Sc# Video Audio


OPEN: Office worker at her desk

OFFICE WORKER: Democrats and Republicans both say they’re on the side of working Americans. But which party really is?


CUT TO: Construction worker on a job site

CONSTRUCTION WORKER: Democrats support unions, so employees have a voice where they work.


CUT TO: Machinist in factory

MACHINIST: Republicans are trying to destroy our right to bargain, by passing anti-union laws.


CUT TO: Man in doctor’s office

MAN: I’m self-employed. Democrats made it possible for me and millions of other Americans to finally afford health insurance.


CUT TO: Nurse in hospital

NURSE: Republicans want to take it all away again.


CUT TO: Retail cashier at register

CASHIER: Democrats are trying to raise the minimum wage.


CUT TO: Cook in restaurant

COOK: Republicans are against it.


CUT TO: Small-business owner at a desk, holding bills

OWNER: Democrats passed a law to stop credit card companies from taking advantage of us.


CUT TO: Woman at a desk at home

WOMAN: Republicans took the side of the credit card industry.


CUT TO: Office worker amid cubicles

OFFICE WORKER: Now Democrats are fighting for things like paid sick leave for all workers, and affordable child care.


CUT TO: Airport baggage handler

AIRPORT WORKER: Guess what? Republicans are against those, too.


CUT TO: Truck driver near his rig

TRUCK DRIVER: You can’t just say you’re for workers. You have to back it up. Republicans have literally tried to make my life worse, not better.


CUT TO: Group of workers from various occupations.

GROUP MEMBER AT CENTER: Support the party that supports you. Vote Democratic on November 8th.

In upcoming posts, we’ll give a few more examples of our fantasy branding ads.

But even in the absence of a TV campaign, it should be the job of every Democratic candidate to reinforce the party’s brand. Their campaigns can’t just be about themselves and where they stand on specific issues. They must also be about the core beliefs of the party. They must continually define how the Democratic ideology reflects deeply held American values such as freedom, fairness, equality, and concern for less fortunate—in forums, stump speeches, debates, campaign literature, and commercials.

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