Friday, February 5, 2010

Carly Fiorina and remedial classes in political campaign advertising

As an aficionado of storytelling and advertising, I'm alternately fascinated by/repulsed by political advertising. And there's a Senate race that catches my attention right now.

I want to like Carly Fiorina--I really do. She's the former head of Hewlett-Packard, a cancer survivor, and now a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from California. This is a lady of real accomplishment.

And yet her new 3 1/2-minute campaign ad has become a viral hit for the wrong reasons. Where to begin... the animal motif, the decision to devote so much attention to her opponent, the freakish man/sheep at the 2:26 mark, the lack of information about Fiorina herself, and the underwhelming amount of time given to her ideas as a candidate.

She has so many weapons at her disposal, but her campaign chose to air a laughably-produced attack ad? Please. With a new candidate--even one with a distinguished career in the computer industry--there's an education process involved. The public has to get to know her.

And this is exactly where you use her life story as a weapon. She has the guts to outlast a deadly illness. She's an overachiever. And she's a breath of fresh air (read: change) for a state with a longtime Democratic senator.

Hmmm, I seem to remember a certain president riding the concept of change all the way to the White House. Now it's time for Ms. Fiorina to position herself as a change agent with a compelling life story.