Creative Director’s Choice: Jay Suhr of T3 on the importance of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign film

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her campaign video

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the current work they think is the best out in the ad world – the ads and campaigns they believe are making a difference.

This week, Jay Suhr, chief creative officer at T3, talks about how important the authenticity of candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign video was in her primary win and for the political advertising world.

The upset win of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the June Democratic primary for a New York congressional seat hit the US with a burst from every news outlet from The New York Times to Rolling Stone. All this for a primary?

The lede was that Ocasio-Cortez had beat a 10-term, male congressman who was a possible successor for Democratic leader of the US House. She was 28, unknown and outspent 18 to one. Who is this woman? That night,I did what many did: I searched Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I found two minutes and eight seconds of magic: The Courage to Change.

The next time you see “authentic” in a brief, tell your teams and clients to study her film.

Fake authenticity rules in American political advertising with its attack ads, schlocky production values, and bio videos that make candidates and their families look like stock photo models.

What Ocasio-Cortez expressed so honestly in words and film was a deep understanding of the people and neighborhoods she serves—their values, issues and stories. Their story is her story.

Ocasio-Cortez gives the work power by narrating her own script with clear points, plain language and her way of speaking. You feel human concern, not wonkish political distance. The film makes her part of her working-class district through details, moments, and scenes of everyday life—all shot by a two-person documentary crew, volunteers and a $10,000 production budget. No agency.

The film starts quietly, then explodes. In 20 seconds you know her roots. At :35, you see what she’s done for her community. At :37 when she observes “going into politics wasn’t in the plan,” you’re hooked. From there, she makes her case, announces her candidacy, and builds momentum with rapid-fire cuts, ideas, answers, and a call for change: “It doesn’t take 100 years to do this. It takes political courage. It takes one of us.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received 57% of the vote. She must win in November to serve in Congress. In the process, she has introduced a new form of authenticity to politics and to advertising.

Jay Suhr is chief creative officer at Austin-based innovation agency, T3.

See the work by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you would like to feature a creative director in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Creative Works editor Kyle O’Brien.

The Courage to Change

Added 30 August 2018
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