Candidates tend to approach an ad as an opportunity to say what they want to say. They should look at an ad as an opportunity to be who they want to be.
A famous adman said, “Writers are concerned with what they put into their writing. Communicators are concerned with what people take out of it.” What viewers take out of an ad is based less on what’s said and more on how it is said. The most important thing viewers get out of a commercial is an understanding of who the candidate is. They infer who a candidate is as a person from how the candidate speaks to them in the ad.
No matter what he says, Jeb Bush comes across a little like a deer in the headlights. He seems unsure and uncomfortable even as he talks about his accomplishments. At this point in the campaign, it seems unlikely that Bush himself can convey confidence, comfort, and control. Maybe he is those things, but that is not coming across in the ad. The smart move would be to minimize Bush in the ads and let the ads themselves communicate the candidate’s self-assurance. If ads can communicate confidence and inner strength for cigarettes, beer, and deodorant, they can do it for a candidate.
Bush should look at each ad as an opportunity to come across as the person he needs to be and to make voters proud to support him.
If voters conscientiously gathered information about the candidates, thoughtfully analyzed the candidates’ positions, and carefully considered the choice, this might be an okay ad. But that’s not the way voters decide.
As long as voters lean politically in generally the same direction as the candidates, voters are persuaded by a person, not a policy.