Why there are no great 2020 ads

The lack of hipster buzz appears to be a strategic choice rather than a failure of imagination. We aren’t seeing head-scratchers, such as when Mike Gravel silently threw a rock in the water, or oddly pretentious spots like when Jon Huntsman began his 2012 presidential campaign with a video of a lone man motorcycling through the desert. We aren’t seeing deliberately cringe-inducing videos, such as the infamous “Demon Sheep” attack ad from Carly Fiorina’s 2010 California Senate campaign, or the Herman Cain presidential ad featuring his smoking chief of staff.

Ad makers appear to be recognizing that hip viral videos haven’t gotten candidates elected. The video stars of 2018 — McGrath, Bryce and Hegar — won their primaries but not their general elections. “America” didn’t make Sanders the Democratic nominee. Creative ads that are fun to watch aren’t necessarily good at getting candidates elected. In other words, clicks aren’t votes.