Written by Dave Huguenel, Managing Director
Before I came into the world of politics, I knew I was destined to be a musician. I played in several rock bands through my college years and I was convinced that I had found my calling. Much to the pleasure of my parents, I settled into a much more professional career but music has stayed an important part of my life and who I am when I’m not working on campaigns.
One way music has stuck with me is my love of music videos, which got me thinking… What is the marketing strategy of music videos in pop culture and is there a lesson we can learn for political campaigns?
Let’s consider the purpose of a music video for just a moment. It’s not a revenue generator for artists. Most artists make their money selling albums or concert tickets. No, a music video is simply an advertisement! It’s a loss leader meant to spur interest to convince viewers to spend their money on tickets, albums, etc.
So.. if a music video is really just an ad… how are they so effective as an ad while breaking all of the advertising rules we’ve been taught to follow? Music videos don’t end with a direct ask to buy something, they don’t explain the value of their concert tickets… they don’t say anything at all about the product they’re trying to sell.
Or do they?
Most good music videos typically do three things. They A.) Convey a compelling story that makes the video interesting content. B.) Show the performance of a song by the artist and C.) Provide an emotional tone that gets the viewer invested and wanting to see more. Bottom line… they’re entertaining.
Well when you break it down that way, music videos are starting to sound like what a good campaign launch ad should be right?! Rather than focusing solely on the selling points of your campaign, perhaps there’s value in focusing on those three goals. If you can convey a compelling story that equates to quality content, provide a taste of who are as a candidate for the viewer, and ensure you’re providing an emotional tone to your video that leaves the viewer/voter wanting to learn more then your launch ad is performing like the ad it’s meant to be without feeling like an ad.
Now with all this talk about music, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t include a few examples. Here are a few of my personal favorite music videos, but as you watch these look at them as you would an ad… What’s the story they’re trying to convey? Is the artist doing a good job of showcasing their performance that would leave someone wanting to see them in concert? And finally, how are they conveying emotion in a way that leaves the viewer attached and wanting to see more?
Now it’s very possible I didn’t choose a genre of music that you’re a particular fan of (apologies!) but regardless, it’s hard to deny that the performance, storytelling, and emotional conveyance in those videos are on point. And the end result for the artists was undeniable when they released those videos. They generated massive success for their bands without ever having to say “Hey, we’re the Foo Fighters and we’re asking you to buy a ticket to our concert next week!”
That’s not to say a direct message/ask isn’t important. Bottom line is you have to find times to be clear to the viewer that you want them to take action. But, as we begin to enter “launch ad” season, perhaps we’re better served by thinking a little less like advertisers and a little more like musicians.