This 128-Second Viral Ad Can Teach You Everything You Should Know About Marketing | Tech Blog

This 128-Second Viral Ad Can Teach You Everything You Should Know About Marketing

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The political twist in New York is remarkable. Political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ran a campaign that ousted 10-term congressional representative Joe Crowley, the fourth-highest ranking House Democrat.

It doesn’t usually happen. Neither does an ad of the caliber that Ocasio-Cortez ran. Watch The Courage to Change first.


Here’s a take from AdWeek, which sums up the power:

We’ve all seen the “my story” candidate ads (some of which are powerful and mold-breaking). But there was something decidedly different, intoxicatingly defiant but also accessible in this film. The aforementioned, fleeting hallmarks of empathy and authenticity are everywhere in this work. For all the talk of storytelling, the little more than two minutes in the film is a master class in compacting passion, honesty and, yes, empathy and authenticity into a compelling package. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t merely telling her story; she’s telling everyone’s story in the district.

According to the 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez, she wrote the copy, volunteers coordinated the shoot, the people in it were from the district.

The video end was handled by a couple of people from Detroit who started their own agency, Means of Production, after having worked in the ad business. Democratic Socialists of America activists Naomi Burton and Nick Hayes wanted to focus on communications for working people.

Still, this was largely a DIY effort. It’s received almost 3 million views. That is amazing. It also helps explain the real power.

Yes, the writing was excellent. Such lines as “We’ve got people, they’ve got money” and “A Democrat who takes corporate money, profits off foreclosure, doesn’t live here, doesn’t send his kids to our schools, doesn’t drink our water or breathe our air, cannot possibly represent us,” are brilliant gems. The images are gritty, real. The pacing, impeccable.

All that, though, isn’t the marketing. It’s the icing that can make a piece sing, only it requires a foundation. In the base are authenticity, real concern for something bigger than the people involved, belief in what you’re doing, an organic connection to the audience. What makes this ad is that the people involved had a reason to make it and reach out and that there was something real to talk about.

Compare that another millennial, 34-year-old Suraj Patel, who used dating/hook-up apps to reach out to voters. (Disclosure: his opponent was a long-time representative in the House in whose office one of my kids interned last year during a final semester of college, but I’ve never met her nor any of her staff.)

Patel and his crew made up dating profiles — spent $5,000 advertising on Tinder, according to — with photos of attractive people and then, when someone responded, someone would then introduce the candidate.

How fake can you be? How disconnected from regular people? Apparently, a campaign strategist for him wrote about developing the concept, which she called “catfishing for a cause,” previously. She said that “young voters are happy to listen and engage in discussion when you reach out to them in a place where this behavior is expected.”

I didn’t see any information to show whether this actually did result in success when it came time to vote. Even then, the concept first came about as a way to support “two critical ballot measures that would make or break our city’s ability to help [homeless] people get back on their feet.” It was about a community, not a single person’s desires.

Patel’s campaign is a demonstration of how to badly market. Ocasio-Cortez’s, how to truly reach people. Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from both examples.

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