Andrew Gillum : Story Film
Updated: Nov 30, 2018
There is a new kind of political advertising happening in modern campaigns. It's not about pitching voters on your policy proposals. It's not about demeaning your opponent. It's not even promoting your political accomplishments.
It's not really advertising at all. It's storytelling and it works.
Identity matters more than policy
My working theory of modern American politics is that Who You Are, matters more than, Your Policy Platform.
Donald Trump is a stark example of how little policy means to voters when they feel a personal identification to the candidate. Trump campaigned on policies completely antithetical to the traditional GOP. He said he wanted higher taxes on investors, healthcare for everyone and tariffs at the border.
Still, GOP voters embraced him becuase they like him. It's the old, "I could have a beer with that candidate," trope that was so often used for George W Bush.
Who you are, and I don't just mean race or gender, but a larger sense of your cultural values and attitudes, seems to mean more to voters than the 15 point plan of your policy platform.
Tell Voters Who You Are
I applaud the Gillum team for their production of this short film about who their candidate is. It's beautiful, moving and makes me trust this man to be my next Governor. Even though he lost, ads like this go so far in helping endear the candidate to voters.
Making great campaign ads, or short films, is of course, no panacea for victory. Gillum still lost, although it was a razor thin margin that required a recount.
But for a candidate who the media often pegged as, "Far Left," he came incredibly close to winning a red state. A state that Trump won comfortably in 2016. A state that hasn't elected a Democratic Governor in 24 years.
Andrew Gillum did an above average job in telling his story to voters and building admiration for the man he is. Despite losing he still gets mentioned as a future leader of the Democratic party and a possible presidential candidate at some point down the road.
All Candidates Should Do This
Producing great campaign short films isn't cheap or easy. For many smaller campaigns it can be hard to recreate the high quality production of the Andrew Gillum film. Ad agencies and production studios will routinely bill, $100K-200K, for a polished short film like his.
This is why independent Digital Directors and Consultants, like myself, are approaching campaigns with an offer to produce materials like this in the range of $25k-50K. Without the overhead of an agency, and relying on contract teams of cinematographers and editors, an individual consultant can produce high quality short films for less than half the cost.
Candidates at every level should be pursuing work like the Gillum Story Film, to tell voters who they are and what the believe. A candidate who can make a connection based on shared cultural values and attitudes will be forgiven for policy differences. Just look at our current President for proof of that.