We’re honored to help judge the Pollie Awards
The Pollie Awards, hosted by the American Association of Political Consultants, are the gold standard in honoring excellence in political advertising. When we were chosen to judge entries in the latest Pollie Awards, our team took it very seriously. The opportunity to help decide which ads we think are the most effective.
Our team was asked to judge 30 different submissions based on a number of criteria. The metrics we judged were creativity, production, and most importantly, political effectiveness.
Advertising creativity is a nuanced challenge in political campaign. It’s not easy to create compelling content around the same issue or candidate throughout an election season. We saw this during the judging process all too often: a trending issue needs to be addressed immediately and creativity is often sacrificed for timeliness. The problem is — little else is more efficient than inventive advertising when done well, and winning campaigns know how to produce timely, effective, inventive advertising. The Pollie Award nominations that scored highest were memorable, innovative, strategic, and relevant.
The top trend we saw in production was strong political storytelling. One technique we found most interesting was cutting in cell phone footage to drive the narrative. Instead of the popular edited wide shot we expect to see in a campaign ad, most ads made an effort to humanize their campaigns, adding warmth and personality to the editing style and a more conversational narrative. Political storytelling is powerful, there’s no doubt, but the key to the most compelling ads are to appeal to the senses of your audience.
A final criteria we judged was political effectiveness, or how effectively a campaign met its goals. Political effectiveness is the most important metric at over 50 percent of the final score. Creativity and production don’t mean much if your ad doesn’t win over voters; this isn’t tee ball — you’re not going to get a participation trophy just for playing. Good campaigns are about playing for keeps.
Our takeaway is that the most effective ads creatively tell a compelling story to our audience, whatever the medium. Regardless of budget, an innovative campaign that understands its target audience in a nuanced way is set apart. That often means a campaign is willing to take a risk to stand out.
And yeah, sometimes political advertising is about falling flat on your face a time or two, but you’ve got to be willing to dust yourself off. At the end of the day, the decisive measure of political advertising is a winning campaign.