As a candidate, if you find yourself in a tight race you’re probably going to need to attack. And there’s a way to do it without coming off as nasty or sleazy. That’s by using humor.
Before we get to deep into this, you might be wondering if you must go negative and on the attack.
If you’re not sure then you should check out the 7 Rules for Going Negative on Political Campaigns.
Now if you are in a position where you need go negative, I highly suggest using humor in your attacks.
Humor is one of the best ways to not only define your opponent, its a good way to undermine their credibility.
This happens because people don’t respect people they ridicule.
And the voters don’t cast their ballots for candidates they don’t respect.
So how do you as a candidate effectively ridicule an opponent to get this result?
You make the voters laugh at them.
This isn’t done in a mean spirited or bullying fashion.
It’s done by pointing out problems and inconsistencies with your opponent’s record, positions, or statements.
Let’s look at three types of funny hit pieces from different races: mail, radio, and television.
This is one of my favorite pieces I’ve ever produced.
It was done in a water board race against a public relations professional whom we dubbed a “lobbyist” due to the work he did with government.
I use this mailer when the candidate I’m working for wants to point out the danger of electing their opponent.
In this case we wanted to point out to the voters that they shouldn’t trust a lobbyist with their drinking water.
The Sheep Piece draws immediate attention to the opponent in a funny way.
And clearly it ridicules the candidate being targeted.
Once the voter is drawn in by the front of the mailer, the back side elaborates on the problems with the candidate.
I’m not a Ted Cruz fan but I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard this radio spot.
The Cruz Campaign put it out immediately after the primary results were in and that he’d be facing Beto O’Rourke this November.
Even if you’re from a state or area where these issues wouldn’t play well for you, you should still be able to see why this ad is effective.
Like the Sheep mailer, this ad immediately seeks to define the opponent for the voters in a humorous way.
The recognizable parody of the Alabama hit “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas” is brilliant.
Let’s look at two different ads here.
The first is from the Pennsylvania gubernatorial primary that is currently underway between Paul Mango and Scott Wagner.
The other is from the United States Senate race in Tennessee back in 2006 between Bob Corker and Harold Ford Jr.
Both of these ads use humor to get their message across about the candidate being attacked.
Obviously, the anti-Ford ad is funnier, but you can’t dismiss the humor in the anti-Wagner ad.
The multiple cartoonish images of Wagner softens the blow of the attacks, while still making their point with the voters.
You might be thinking that you don’t have the funds to air television ads, but don’t forget about Facebook and YouTube.
Facebook is an incredible tool to target and distribute video ads like these.
And You Tube is the worlds second largest search engine behind only Google itself, which owns You Tube.
Funny political ad videos get shared.
And shared videos are pushed up to more people by both Facebook and Google, so don’t ignore funny political videos simply because you’re not doing a TV ad buy.
Candidate Take Aways
If you have to go on the attack, do it in a funny way.
It won’t seem as mean as other types of hit pieces, plus humor can make the voters laugh at your opponent.
And when the voters are laughing at a candidate, they’re typically not voting for them.