Solid new Trump ad: "It's a movement, not a campaign"

Well done, especially the shiny-happy vibe to ease worries that Trump is too much of a demagogue to trust with the presidency. The most arresting thing about this, apart from the tone, is the staccato delivery. The narrator doesn’t even speak in complete sentences at some points. It’s one quick shot of rhetorical morphine after another — jobs, success, building, dreams, freedom, family, unity, together, ahead, future. It’s as if Kellyanne Conway pulled out a master list of the best-testing buzzwords in politics and told her ad guy to cram ’em all in, cutting verbs if necessary. The “movement” theme is smart too in shifting the focus away from Trump, whom most voters dislike, towards his community of believers. The eagerness with which some them have adopted Hillary’s “deplorables” line as a badge of honor is part of that too, I think. It’s a tribal insignia now.

Bernie Sanders, the other populist running this year, had his own version of a “movement” ad in the primaries that aimed at a similar sense of community. That was the famous “America” spot with no narration, just the old Simon and Garfunkel tune. That ad was impressionistic; in its own way this one is too. But it’s impressionistic in the way a sales pitch is, breathless in rattling off all of the ways you’ll benefit from the product if you make the purchase. Sanders’s ad was a hymn to recapturing the lost spirit of the left, impressionistic in the way music is. Interestingly, Sanders’s spot feels more overtly nostalgic for a bygone America than Trump’s does (hippies used to be proud to be communists, damn it) even though Trump’s the one running as the “Make America Great Again” guy. Also interestingly, Sanders’s ad is crowd-oriented despite the fact that he tops everyone, Obama included, in favorable ratings of well-known politicians these days. He could have gotten away with a commercial more focused on him personally. Presumably he wanted to draw a contrast with Hillary, whose campaign has always stood for nothing grander than her own ambition, by emphasizing that his own campaign stood for the people, not him. Trump, the larger-than-life mega-celebrity, can’t quite pull that off. If he wants to convince you that his campaign’s about you, not the billionaire narcissist TV star who can’t stop talking about how awesome he is at the center of it, the message needs to be more overt. Which it is here.

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