“People remember stories; they don’t remember data,” Aaron Lichtig, Google’s Head of Industry, Advocacy and Associations asserted at one of the opening sessions for the #ADWKDC conference. He cited the National Rifle Association’s recent broadcast ads as an example of how personal stories drive messaging.
Lichtig gathered with Ogilvy luminaries and Laura Aulestia, political and issue advocacy lead at Resonate, to lead a frank conversation about the difficulty of influencing DC opinion makers in light of how quickly public opinion can change.
Effective storytelling in the Washington whirlwind is typically a combination of creativity, rapid response, and familiarity with how consumers and influencers use media. When it comes to rapid response, “Search is super turn-key,” allowed Drew Whang, Ogilvy Washington’s Director of Paid Media. Lichtig contributed a recent example of how an issue advocate added its own dose of creativity to exploit search.
When Kenneth Bone piped up with an energy question during the second presidential debate, he achieved instant Internet “meme” status, peaking with his portrayal by Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan in the show’s “cold open.” At the peak of his 15 minutes of fame, an enterprising advertiser purchased the keywords “Ken Bone” to link to their own landing page on energy alternatives, Lichtig said. Using this all-too-rare opportunity for public debate on America’s energy future to advocate for fossil-fuel alternatives was more important to the energy advocate than identifying Bone.
Eventually, the media was only too happy to provide rapid-fire character assassination of this well-meaning “everyman,” but by then the advocate had no doubt removed the paid promotion.
The best advocacy strategy should anticipate these shifts with scenario planning, said Kathy Baird, Ogilvy’s Managing Director of Social for North America. Whang added, “And that should include discretionary budget too, knowing the environment is fluid.” For planning purposes, Whang counseled that “when it comes to trust, Facebook and Twitter are not the first places you typically go for information.” LinkedIn indexes better than the other two social platforms when trying to reach DC opinion makers, but in this context you have to already know who these influencers are.
Said Lichtig, “There are a lot of people on Capitol Hill responsible for monitoring Twitter, but not Facebook or YouTube,” for indications of public sentiment. It’s actually possible to buy an ad on Twitter targeting just those monitors “for very little money,” he added, but such an effort has to be driven by very narrowly defined goals. Anecdotally, he said he’s been told that just 12 letters generated by a digital campaign – if written by hand by individual constituents in a given congressional district – can have the power to sway a legislator’s opinion.
There are other ways to demonstrate the efficacy of digital campaigns, Whang suggests, namely control vs. exposed surveys in the same digital media where the ads appeared, while the campaign is ongoing. Media buys should accommodate such test messaging, he adds. Lichtig confirms that YouTube has a $7,000 media assessment option built into its rate card, though that just covers the media, not the analysis.
Other major trends from this year’s political races:
- Lichtig: “Disintermediation is the big story and that’s here to stay.” Candidates can create their own media.
- Whang: “One size messaging does not fit all.” For example, the Clinton campaign did a good job of creating different videos for social media than appeared on television.
#ADWKDC conference coverage was sponsored by @SABIOmobile, a next-gen mobile ad targeting platform and @PublicisMedia, which strives for diversity and inclusion in all its creative endeavors.