Great Political Videos

By Patrick Campbell

When it comes to popularity contests, we think it’s fair to say that politicians are never going to be challenging the likes of David Attenborough or Pringles for the Number 1 position.

“A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them” is the opinion of American satirist P. J. O’Rourke, and, whilst that may be a little unfair on our rulers down in London, we do know what he’s getting at.

OK, they’re nobody’s favourites, but politicians do have one thing going for them – they understand how effective video can be for them.

Whether you love politics or hate it, we reckon you’ve seen at least one political video in your lifetime – a promotional effort that tries its best to coax you into voting a certain way at the next electoral opportunity.

In this blog entry, we’re going to highlight seven political videos which we think are good, and tell you why we think they are too.

Please note – we’re judging these videos on their nature alone rather than the messages contained within them, so any political opinions we may have are being well and truly put aside!

“I Like Ike” – Republican Party (1952 US Presidential Election)

Here in 2018 there’s an awful lot you can do with video, but things were a little different back in the 1950s!

Back then political campaign videos had to rely quite heavily on catchy jingles and upbeat, triumphant music, as we can see in both in this example for Dwight Eisenhower and in the effort below for JFK.

At a time when Disney movies were becoming incredibly popular in America it’s no surprise that this one is an animated effort, but its effectiveness hangs on the incredibly catchy song and “I Like Ike” tagline.

Try to watch this one several times and not have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day!

“JFK for President!” – Democratic Party (1960 US Presidential Election)

Fast forward eight years, and this time it was the US Democrats grabbing our attention with this effort for John F Kennedy.

This one follows a similar format to the example above – catchy jingle and animation – but intersperses stock photographs of American citizens throughout to highlight how it was “up to you” to vote the Bostonian into office.

There’s a lot to enjoy about this one, but nothing more so than the line “…but not so doggoned seasoned that he won’t try something new!”

“What’s the choice in this election?” – Labour Party (2015 UK General Election)

Political parties using famous people to try and persuade people to vote for them is nothing new, and back in 2015 the Labour Party went on a charm offensive using this tactic – creating promotional videos featuring the likes of Steve Coogan, Jo Brand, and, in this example, Martin Freeman.

We won’t comment on what Freeman’s saying, but what we will comment on is how this video looks. The filmmakers have taken a standard technique – person speaking directly to camera – and made it interesting through the use of different angles and creative cutaways.

This creativity doesn’t harm the flow of the narrative, and instead makes the video much more visually appealing than it otherwise would have been.

“#GrownUpPolitics” – Green Party (2016 UK Local Elections)

Let’s face it, there’s not many laughs to be had with politicians and politics in general, which is why this 2016 effort from the Green Party stands out a mile compared to others.

This video is genuinely funny, and shows how sometimes thinking creatively can bring real rewards. In this example the Green Party have turned our expectations of a political video on its head, and we applaud them for it!

“Told Me” – Amy McGrath (2018 Democratic Primary for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District)

All good videos have a story to tell, and Amy McGrath’s story is more interesting than others.

This video is, we have to admit, very American. There’s stirring music, there’s footage of fighter jets, there’s patriotism by the bucket load.

Above all of that however it’s a powerful, interesting story told in a direct, concise manner – even if it does stray a little too much into ‘Top Gun’ territory!

“The Courage to Change” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (2018 Democratic Primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District)

In recent years we’ve begun to see the influence social media can have on the dissemination of videos, and this is certainly reflected in both this effort from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the one below from MJ Hegar.

This powerful, emotive video quickly went viral on social media after its release, and resonated with Democratic voters both in New York and across America.

We think this video is beautifully shot, and does a superb job of achieving its aim – making Ocasio-Cortez a woman of the people and not your standard politician.

“Doors” – MJ Hegar (2018 Democratic Primary for Texas’s 31st Congressional District)

Like the example above, this video is one which took social media by storm in the summer of 2018, propelling MJ Hegar into the political spotlight across the world.

Built about the theme of “doors”, this one is a fantastic combination of impressive transitions, low-key humour, and powerful storytelling. It may just be the best political video we’ve ever seen.

 

In conclusion, these seven videos are for different politicians and are constructed in different ways, but they all share one thing in common – they engage and persuade, two factors which go a long way to determining the success of a video regardless of its nature or target audience.

Perhaps your next corporate video could utilise some of the techniques seen in the examples above. Now who said you never get anything from politicians?!

 


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