Political Ad Critique Pt. 4: Is an Aggressive Message a Good Message?

I hardly ever watch cable TV, especially news channels. But when I do, I like to play a game with myself for no other reason than to “stick it to the man.” Here’s how the game works:

  1. Watch CNN until they bad mouth Conservatives/Fox News/Republicans
  2. Change the channel to Fox New
  3. Watch Fox News until they bad mouth Liberals/CNN/Democrats
  4. Change the channel to CNN, etc.

Needless to say, my hand cramps up after 5 minutes from having to press the Previous button so much. That’s how I am though. I’m very middle of the road, politically, and I never find myself fully favoring one side over the other. HOWEVER……. this is a big however,

when it comes to marketing, just marketing, one side CLEARLY stands out with who has the most cringe-worthy, disgusting, atrousious marketing ads I’ve ever seen. And I mean seriously, the RNC produces the stupidest, most disgraceful marketing materials ever. This became even more clear to me as I recently tried to sign up for President Trump’s new social media platform, “TRUTH Social”. Being in Digital Marketing for over a decade I knew what I was getting my inbox into, though.

The time finally came to receive every single email blast the RNC and President Trump could throw at me, and it did not disappoint. So let’s get analyzing!

I preface this by saying, this is purely about marketing. No agenda, no bias, no endorsements or anything for either side. I am talking imagery and copy. That’s all.

First, here’s a snapshot of my inbox:

Now for starters, President Trump ads have ALWAYS included MANY words in ALL CAPS.

  • H U R R Y, PENDING, MUST, TRUMP 600% ALERT, 600% IMPACT, INCREASED, EXTENDED, IMPACT, OFFICIAL POLL, BIG, URGENT MESSAGE INSIDE, YOU, 10X-IMPACT, SO, TRUMP CASH BLITZ DAY, YOU, BIG, BIG, WILL NOT, ANYONE

Taking a look at this list though, many things pop out at me (aside from having caps lock on the whole time I’m writing this). If this list of words had a tagline it would be, “Bringing you from ordinary to EXTRAordinary.” These words are about breaking down barriers, achieving more, being greater, etc. Words like, increased, 600%, extended, impact, blitz, are more than just being basic and regular. Pushing out THIS type of message to supporters is very encouraging and engaging, like having the opportunity to contribute to something greater. *Remember this for later.

So the language used is pretty great for the target audience. “So, what’s so cringe-worthy about that,” you may be asking yourself. Well, here’s the inside of some of those emails. Again, I’m judging this purely from a marketing standpoint.

Please God, no. This was not done by professionals. I refuse to believe it.

What’s with this classified, CIA agent, 007 video game Title font? And why doesn’t it make sense? “YOUR FILE: attention required.” Also, what is this color formatting? Red font, black font, red, black, red, black, red, black, blue. Also, between two normal, black font paragraphs, why is there a red, italicized, bolded, underlined sentence thrown in the mix? Ok, let’s continue.

*Remember what I said about the powerful language from earlier? This is where the strength and “being greater” language comes into play. Let’s see what’s ALL CAPS (aside from the titles).

  • EXTREMELY, BRAND-NEW, EVEN HARDER, STILL PENDING, FEND OFF, PROTECT, FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS, FINAL CHANCE, AND, NOW

By removing the call-to-action words, we’re left with a forceful, rough, and urgent message. In context, you can see this by statements like:

“extremely vital”
“Democrats are trying even harder”
“everything on the line”
“without your support, we can’t fend off”
“and stand up for”

So it’s very clear the voice these “professionals” who wrote this are going for is a powerful, rough-n-tough, aggressive one. Neither right nor wrong, it’s just the voice they chose.

On to the next email…

Ok, so we’re coming in again with the non-complimentary fonts and the red/black theme. Since this email is very “take action” focused, I do appreciate the opening text showing such urgency. Before even opening with my name I’m already told something is missing and needs to be acted on RIGHT NOW. Well played.

Unlike the first email, there is no real rhyme or reason as to WHAT words ARE in ALL CAPS in the FIRST sentence AFTER the headline text.

  • USERNAME, NEW, AND, FIRST POST

Then an image of President Trump’s first post to prove it’s real, which is fine. But then these “professionals” get VERY lazy with their formatting and grammar skills. A copy/paste call-to-action title and button is used with only two sentences in between them. And the sentences are confusing regarding their messaging.

“Our team is printing a list of EVERY PATRIOT who submits their username TODAY.”

I understand the response the writers want the target audience to give, whic is, “wow, I want the President to print my name, and I’m DEFINITELY a patriot. Alright, let’s do this!” But the immediate next sentence is one of fear and accusations.

“If you FAIL, you may LOSE OUT on your chance to support President Trump’s NEW social media site. DO NOT DELAY”

The reader’s response, “Wow, ok, so I might let my President down? Oh no, I don’t want to do that! But wait, I’m not letting HIM down, I’m technically letting his social media site down…?”

So you see, the messaging now is: CTA, getting recognized, possibly getting shamed, CTA. It’s an awkward flow. However, all messaging here is definitely appropriate for the target audience. These are all very “you” centric messages, whether good or bad.

  • Side note, I don’t think the writers understand how social media works. The CTA says, “President Trump’s social media,” but the sentence says, “President Trump’s new social media site.” So is this a site or is he creating a new type of social media? Then we end with a Thank You, and another CTA.

That’s all we have for this edition of Political Ad Critique. Stay tuned for a critique of the DNC emails I’ve gotten!

BUT WAIT, here’s a homework assignment for you. From a marketing perspective, what faux-pas can you spot?

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