A Ron Paul Advertising Strategy
This election cycle the Republican Party is offering up its usual assortment of phonies, not one of whom can name a single thing he would cut from our government's $2.9 trillion budget. Not one seems to know the first thing about monetary policy. Not one looks at our disaster of a foreign policy and suggests anything but more of the same.
If everyone's record were an open book, Ron Paul would be eating these guys alive, especially with the reach his fourth-quarter fundraising bonanza gives him.
That John McCain enjoyed a "wide advantage" in New Hampshire among primary voters who opposed the war in Iraq means Ron Paul's message is not getting out as it should. McCain has said he'd be fine with a 100-year U.S. military occupation of Iraq — a comment that should be repeated over and over again as evidence of how obviously unelectable he is.
There is no sense in trying to dance around Dr. Paul's opposition to the Iraq war, even in a Republican primary. He doesn't benefit from the division of the pro-war vote among the other candidates if people don't realize that he is antiwar. Plenty of military people, even if they might oppose a quick exit, freely admit that the war was a disastrous idea from the start. The two issues that need emphasis now, in fact, are the Iraq war and the sorry state of the economy — and Dr. Paul can show how the two are related.
Dr. Paul's target demographic is the young voter, and a marketing firm that understands this demographic should be working for him. Dr. Paul needs to be shown speaking dramatically and in front of large crowds in big cities, out in the country, and at Google. The huge crowds, the signs, the cheers, the smiling faces, and the youthful demographic are at least as important as the words spoken. The spontaneous energy of the Ron Paul movement should come through. This has been captured very well in countless YouTubes, so it should be easy for a professional outfit to duplicate. People like to get involved in causes that they think other people are supporting.
To make an impact, the ads should be sixty seconds, not thirty. Those are more expensive, of course, but the effect of a longer, more captivating and informative ad more than compensates for the additional expense. With the longer commercial, it's possible to stitch in clips from his appearances on the Daily Show, the Tonight Show, or the Colbert Report. Might as well show Jon Stewart saying, "Congressman Ron Paul, you appear to have consistent, principled integrity," followed by his joking aside, "Americans don't usually go for that" — at which point we see a jovial Dr. Paul laughing.
Ron Paul simply must be differentiated from the rest of the candidates if his campaign cash is going to do him any good and if he is to have a chance to win some surprise victories. Ads that make him seem like just another one of them would be an unthinkable waste of money. And we need to see him talking to the camera — not scripted, of course, but with remarks stitched together from his various campaign appearances.
In open primaries in particular, the correct approach to advertising Ron Paul would not only garner his true share of Republican voters but also increase the turnout of independents and even antiwar Democrats to his side.
A still more confrontational option would involve putting head shots of all the candidates on the screen. Then ask, "Who among these men has never voted to raise taxes?" All faces but Dr. Paul's disappear. "Who has spoken out against the unconstitutional No Child Left Behind Act?" All faces but Dr. Paul's disappear. "Who opposed the Patriot Act?" "Who opposed the unconstitutional, costly war in Iraq?"
And for good measure, we might add: "Who gets the most donations from active-duty and retired military personnel?"
And then, perhaps: "In this Republican primary, you have two choices, not five. Another double-talking big spender, or [here shift to Ron Paul speaking to a cheering crowd] the man who's been called the Thomas Jefferson of our day. For once, we can really make a difference. Ron Paul for President."
For once in their lives, Americans have the opportunity to vote for a truly great man, and can have a president they can actually be proud of for a change. Let's make sure they know about it.
January 24, 2008
Mark Thornton [send him mail] is an economist who lives in Auburn, Alabama. He is author of The Economics of Prohibition, is a senior fellow with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and is the Book Review Editor for the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He is co-author of Tariffs, Blockades, and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War and is the editor of The Quotable Mises. Thomas E. Woods, Jr. [view his website; send him mail] is senior fellow in American history at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and the author, most recently, of 33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask. His other books include How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization (get a free chapter here), The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (first-place winner in the 2006 Templeton Enterprise Awards), and the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.
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