Top 10 political ad pet peeves

I love political ads. In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit that while other people are spending hours on Facebook and Twitter I often find myself spending way too much time scouring YouTube looking at nothing but political ads.

With the cost barriers to creating ads quickly diminishing and the emergence of web ads as an effective tool in campaigns, more and more political ads are popping up every day -- this only exacerbates my YouTube political ad addiction. But while watching hundreds of political ads over the years I began to notice some things that really get on my nerves, and thus a list was born. Here are 10 mistakes I see over and over again.

1. The use of nonprofessional voice talent: This may save a few hundred bucks in production costs, but it's the one thing that will hurt your ad the most.

2. Cramming too many words into a 30 second ad

3. Featuring a weak or awkward handshake

4. Same ole same ole: Using the same shot of the candidate working at their desk, meeting voters at the diner, or walking with a crowd of supporters.

5. The use of unnatural poses or situations featuring the candidate

6. Too much text on the screen 

7. Having a microphone visible on the candidate’s shirt, tie or blouse

8. A candidate who wears the same outfit in every shot

9. Employing overly-scripted man on the street ads

10. A candidate who just doesn't sound good on camera.

Let’s be honest, sometimes a candidate is a great human being, a public servant with a great family, but is just plain horrible when it comes to speaking on camera. The last thing your campaign wants to do is distract the viewer from the message. So if the candidate talking straight to camera is sweating, uncomfortable, unnatural, or just seems plain scary then it’s time to move to plan B.

What is Plan B? It's spending the extra money on professional voiceover talent and good B-roll for visuals. Look at the bright side: the professional voiceover can spend the entire ad saying great things about your candidate. If the candidate did that it would just seem like they were bragging. And no one likes bragging.

Brent Barksdale is senior vice president for Jamestown Associates, a full-service Republican political consulting firm. You can follow Brent Barksdale on Twitter @brentbarksdale and @politicaltips.


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