I know, I know. You’re sick to death of hearing about this election (even if somehow you can’t stop yourself from reading every post-mortem headline that pops up on your screen). But I thought you might be interested in knowing what influenced the outcome according to Ad Age, the industry Bible, in a piece entitled, How Did Hillary Clinton Screw This Up? For Starters, Her Advertising Was All Wrong.
Not to put too fine a point on it...
According to author Simon Dumenco, word on the street was that Trump was using free PR rather than advertising to get his message across, but by the end of the campaign, he literally emptied the treasury for ads that “cunningly, strategically outperformed tone-deaf Team Clinton.”
Clinton’s most expensive and seemingly successful ad, entitled Role Models, had Trump throwing out not-for-prime-time one-liners while wide-eyed and uncomprehending children sat watching him on TV.
Tagline: Our children are watching. What example will we set for them?
Dumenco wrote in a September ad review that since Donald Trump announced his presidency (June 16, 2015) “...he's said hundreds of outrageous things... and we're all used to it by now. We're inoculated to it. Spending money to try to crank up the outrage machine over Outrageous Donald is probably not going to move the needle at this point.”
But in Domenco’s view, the ongoing theme that “Trump is a big jerk” permeated all the ads approved by Clinton and her allies. He contrasted this to the Trump campaign’s “dead-simple, exceedingly traditional ads related to Big Issues.”
In Hillary Clinton's America, the middle class gets crushed, spending goes up, taxes go up, hundreds-of-thousands of jobs disappear. It's more of the same, but worse. In Donald Trump's America, working families get tax relief, millions of new jobs created, wages go up, small businesses thrive. The American dream, achievable. Change that makes America great again.
“The way I saw it,” said Dumenco, “Trump the candidate may have been erratic, but Trump the advertiser was all about highly effective (for its target audience) message discipline -- whereas Clinton's message discipline was basically, Trump is awful. And I'm your only hope...”
His parting shot had to do with Clinton’s now infamous “basket of deplorables” assessment of Trump followers.
“Hillary Clinton not only misread white, working-class America,” summarized Dumenco, “she misread American pop culture, how many real Americans think and talk, and why many real Americans embrace antiheroes.”
The International Association of Political Consultants — which includes pollsters, ad creators and campaign strategists — had the unfortunate luck of scheduling their annual convention for the Friday after the election.
Actually, the date was preplanned to be “a celebration of big data and strategic wizardry for a multibillion-dollar industry that has spent nearly a century packaging political candidates,” according to The New York Times.
Instead, it was described as “a therapy session for a business in psychological free fall.”
Just how bad are things for political consultants these days?
Chris Anderson, a Democratic pollster who predicted victory for his candidate, said during a group (therapy?) session: “We’re going to continue to learn from Donald Trump how to effectively message, because he can do it really well.”