But the Scott Heidepriem campaign seems to think it's making movies. Whoever the magic marketers are behind the Democrat's gubernatorial campaign, they continue to put medium over message.
The latest misdirection: the campaign releases a trailer for Thursday's half-hour Heidepriem campaign commercial.
The first two lines are great. Heidepriem speaks of needing to leave no regrets. Republican Don Frankenfeld says we face a choice between "eight more years of complacency, or are we going to have decisive action." Ding! Pow! Nice one-two of the eager, earnest leader and the hard attack.
But then the trailer gets fuzzy. In an apparent effort to overdevelop the theme, the kids in marketing dilute a series of pretty good attacks and endorsements from other pols with a scattershot blast of disjointed personal comments from Heidepriem. His statements make little sense without context:
- "It was a wild summer" with high soybean, corn, and cattle prices... but we don't hear which summer, or what that has to do with state ag or tax policy.
- Heidepriem chokes up recalling a funeral... but we don't hear whose, or when.
- "By the time we were a few songs into it, the crowd had evacuated..." from where? into what? Was the State Senate singing lieder in the middle of a bomb scare?
- "She was a rock star, and I was a security detail..." Who was she? where? And what does this have to do with anything?
- "...the balance that I thought was so important for South Dakota had vanished..." getting back on message, probably referencing the Legislature.
- "You can see that arrow point up dramatically, then flatten for a generation..." and that arrow would be... what? the average income of South Dakotans that your economic development policies will rescue from stagnation? the amount of funding for education that you will increase? the percentage of healthy baby deliveries on the reservation?
- Scott Abdallah (I think that's him) gives a good line about things not getting done because of too much partisan politics.
- Ann Tornberg gets a decent line about education not getting another dollar until we get our priorities straight, although there's a pronoun without an antecedent that obscures the argument.
- Russ Janklow offers a quote from his dad (that would be Governor, Congressman, Republican icon and ex-convict Bill Janklow) that could get huge mileage encapsulating the Rounds/Daugaard Administration's drifting, visionless governing through the economic downturn: "Anybody can be governor on a good day, but sometimes we don't have that many good days."
- Frankenfeld comes back with the cookie jar line, which we know has to do with state government balancing the budget with stunts and stimulus money, not Bob Mercer in the press hospitality room.
- Former Governor Harvey Wollman returns with the "put in a new team" line.
Now maybe the creators of this shiny little trailer will complain, "We're not making a campaign ad! We're making a movie trailer!"
No. Horsepuckey. This ain't cinema school. You are working for a candidate for governor. When you brush your teeth, it's a campaign ad. Every communication that comes out of your office must add value to the campaign by screaming "Vote for Heidepriem!" Every communication you issue should stand on its own as a campaign statement.
This trailer fails in that regard. In its Youtube version, it doesn't even sell the advertisement it advertises by telling us when to tune in. The trailer thus wastes viewers' time, and that's really, really bad marketing.
But far be it from me to complain without offering solutions. Here's how to turn this disjointed video into a butt-kicking campaign ad:
- Cut all the personal Scott moments.
- Move Heidepriem's line about the loss of balance to come right after Abdallah's.
- Keep that "arrow" quote, but tell us what the heck the arrow is!
- Insert captions for each endorser so every viewer knows exactly who these impressive people are.
- After Wollman's line, splice in a nice video of Heidepriem and Ben Arndt shaking hands before a cheering crowd.
- Then fade to Heidepriem and Arndt looking straight at the camera: "I'm Scott Heidepriem." "I'm Ben Arndt." "It's time for a new team. That's us."
- Over that last ten seconds, you display the campaign URL in very clear letters.