Political ad expert reacts to 2020 candidates

TV ads are still a major battleground in presidential elections. Here, a political advertising expert breaks down the 2020 presidential candidates' TV spots. (via Brut News)

Michael Franz has studied political advertising for 20 years.

We asked him to discuss political ads from the 2020 Democratic candidates.

Sen. Bernie Sanders

“Yeah, this is a really good ad. It's very well made. And you'll notice at the end it mentions to join the fight and sign up, lists his website. This is a professionally made ad, you could imagine Bernie taking pieces of this ad and turning them into TV messages that are 30 seconds long. So, just kind of packaging, certain sections of it very, very simply. So, it could serve multiple purposes in that way.”

Vice President Joe Biden

“Yeah, this is a good ad as well, very strong appeals to a variety of things. Policies, experience, can beat Trump, there's emotional appeals there as well, in addition to policy appeals. I also like the voiceover which kind of evokes Biden himself, which is sort of hokey and sort of straightforward talk, you know, if it's very, the voice itself kinda reflects the way Biden will talk.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

“She just basically says it, you know, "If he's worried about me, then I must be the one who can do it." So, that gets at the heart of what many Democrats are debating now, Interestingly, what that ad also does is somewhat, I would say, slyly quotes various people talking about Trump being worried about her as a nominee, and actually sort of cites at the bottom that Trump is worried about Warren, MSNBC. You'll oftentimes see political ads contained citations to information to kind of bolster the argument, but it's only, so it's sort of lightly documented, right? There's no real way to go back and verify how many times Trump expressed this concern or Democrats and Republicans have been talking about this relative to Warren. So, it makes a strong point, but it's not easily, shall we say, verifiable.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

“It almost evokes an older type of ad, which, you know, back in the, even I've seen ads, you know, from back in the late 60s and early 70s that had a similar feel to them. There was an old ad that George McGovern aired when he was running in 1972 that basically had his shirt sleeves up, surrounded sort of by you, well, I would say union workers, but definitely blue collar sort of factory workers and McGovern sort of giving his sort of no-nonsense take on what he thought needed to happen and the guys in the hard hats are nodding their heads, and, you know, recognizing that McGovern's making a really good point. And so that's, it's a traditional message in that way to kind of show the candidate in a quasi-natural setting making his pitch.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

“What's neat about this ad is, and especially in relation to the Biden ad, is it really, I think, reflects somewhat of the personalities of these candidates. So, Biden's got the grizzled voiceover, Amy Klobuchar's ad is a little, feels a little more "Midwestern nice" in that sense, right? So, it's got Midwesterners, her people, in the ad. You can feel it, you can hear that the accent, sounds like my in-laws, actually. The color and the scenes evoke a sort of happier place, right not a gritty place with the soul of America, which is Biden's message but a place about accomplishments, getting things done. America can be a happier, better place because of someone like Amy Klobuchar. So, I think it nicely reflects the type of campaign that she wants to run.”

Tom Steyer

“I think this is an on-the-cheap use of this strategy because he's quoting himself from the debate. One effective strategy in campaign ads is for the candidate to talk directly to the camera, and oftentimes, you'll see the candidate in a sort of staged setting — in front of a fire or in some sort of living room or something. And Steyer has done a lot of that in his ads. He's appeared either outside talking to the camera, you know, hands-on-hips. And so, he's been talking directly to the camera that way all year. And it can be an effective strategy because you know, people are tuned in to someone who's talking directly to them. And that, I think, is Steyer's sort of style in that regard. And he can deliver the message with a sharpness that conveys authority, which is important for him to convey so that people give him a good look.”