Written by Tom Jennings
For years, US political advertising has looked like this...
But this year, something has changed.
They're looking like this...
Produced in an ultra widescreen ratio, featuring dramatic handheld footage.
They have practically no onscreen text and are typically four times longer than a traditional TV ad.
They're short films...
This new breed of political ad is allowing candidates to tell a different kind of story; they're deeply personal and touch on difficulties in the candidate's life.
The kind of troubles that haven't often been discussed in political ads before.
The intention? To show voters that the candidate can empathise with the very difficulties that people in the more challenged parts of society face.
They've been coined 'empathy ads.'
They cost less and skirt some regulations too.
On social media, there's no audience limit.
And the audience, are the driving force behind views.
They watch, they like, they comment... They share.
In this year's midterms, these empathy ads have gone viral; gaining millions of views; mobilsing voters; and recruiting volunteers.
The cost of which has been pennies compared to traditional TV ad spots.
But price point isn't the only incentive for campaigns and candidates to go digital.
Whilst British political broadcasting has always been stricter, the US Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act was passed in 2002, long before the internet became a prominant place for political advertising.
As a result, US regulations around online political advertising are muddy at best.
US TV spots require the "stand by your ad" protocol which dictates screen-space usage.
There is no such requirement for ads distributed over the internet.
Giving political filmographers like us a lot more freedom with your message.
So let's recap.
Empathy ads look different, last longer, cost less and have fewer regulations.
But do they work?
It did for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who beat incumbent Congressman, Democratic Caucus Chair, Joe Crowley.
Her empathy ad wasn't the sole reason, of course, for her selection success.
But just as televised presidential debates shifted the political process into a new era from radio to visual.
We are Civitas firmly believe that empathy ads are transforming our political process from analogue to digital.
Are you up for (s)election? You need an empathy ad.
Get in touch with us here.
Unsure if it'll work 'over the pond?'
They're already here.