Let’s Get Weird - Political Underdogs Bite Back

We all know politicking ain’t cheap. Between the flag pins, hand sanitizer, and bumper stickers a candidate could go broke. 

The biggest expense by far, and arguably most influential is ad time. At $110,000 per 30-second primetime spot, deep pocket campaigns have a drastic advantage over true grass roots candidates.  I use the modifier “true” because the phrase has been hijacked in recent years. There is even a term for it.  

Astroturfing: pretending to be a grassroots movement, when in reality the agenda and strategy are controlled by a hidden, non-grassroots organization.

…But I digress. 

If you don’t want to sell your soul to the Koch brothers or trade your first born to the petroleum industry you don’t have a lot of options. So what’s the little guy to do?

Small budget campaigns have little to lose and sadly many voters vote solely by party and name recognition. So why not do something bold?

There is no such thing as bad publicity right? If a candidate is audacious enough to do something unusual media outlets will eat it up and give away more airtime than a small campaign could ever afford. 


In maybe the most avant-garde political ad ever made presidential candidate Mike Gravel stares silently into the camera for a full minute before heaving a giant rock into a pond. The remaining minute and a half is Gravel walking away into the distance. He didn’t win but his video has over 
1,300,000 views and was highlighted by the Daily Show, CNN, FOX NEWS, and others.  

J.D. Winteregg, a tea party candidate running against John Boehner did a Cialis parody for those experiencing electile dysfunction.  Highlights include a side effects style voice over warning: “If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years seek immediate medical attention” and footage of Boehner saying: “It’s boner.” 

Sometimes it’s not a money issue, weird just plays better to certain demographics. Joni Ernst is running for Iowa’s U.S. senate seat so it’s only natural that she would start her campaign ad by talking about her childhood hobby of hacking testicles from animals. If you get a chance to meet her I’d pass in the handshake.

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