WASHINGTON: An eye-popping $4.5 billion is projected to pour into US political advertising in 2018, but a few thousand bucks last spring may have been the best-spent money of the entire midterm election cycle, reports AFP. When working-class New Yorker and political newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez heard the offer by two socialist-leaning videographers to produce her introductory congressional campaign ad for under $10,000, her cash-strapped campaign jumped at the opportunity.
The result was a riveting, two-minute online video, with a persuasive voiceover by the then-28-year-old candidate who is shown changing into heels on a subway platform and making her case to voters.“This race is about people versus money,” Ocasio-Cortez says in the video released in late May. “We’ve got people. They’ve got money.”
The ad—empathetic, defiant, authentic—was an instant hit, earning a staggering 5.1 million views.
Four weeks later Ocasio-Cortez shocked the political establishment by defeating a Democratic titan in their New York primary, a victory that reverberated nationally ahead of midterm elections November 6.
It also upended the notion of what smart political advertising can be, and how powerful digital campaigning has become.
Several first-time candidates, many of them Democrats seeking to reclaim the House of Representatives from President Donald Trump’s Republicans, are cutting through the political noise and introducing themselves to voters online.
Indeed, 2018 has been the year of the viral campaign video.Nick Hayes, co-founder of Detroit-based Means of Production which did the Ocasio-Cortez ad, said the rise of Internet platforms has been a godsend for new candidates.
“I think what social media and digital campaigning opened up is the ability for candidates who don’t have $4 million from some corporation to be heard, and to be able to communicate with voters in a way that wasn’t possible before,” Hayes, 21, told AFP in an interview.
“By having a strong social media presence, by coming out with effective messaging, by staying on point and talking about working-class politics, you can topple these people, you know?”
The “my story” videos have proven to be defining elements of several 2018 campaigns.
But those by Ocasio-Cortez and another woman running for Congress, US Air Force veteran MJ Hegar of Texas, are already considered masterpieces of the genre.