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Castrating hogs to cut through the media clutter in political campaigning

March 30th, 2014

I’m ┬áJoni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm. So when I get to Washington I’ll know how to cut pork

30-03-2014 castratinghogs

That’s the message as the relatively unknown Joni Ernst seeks┬áthe Iowa Republican Party’s U.S. Senate nomination. Her television ad is designed to cut through the media clutter without the huge expense of constant repetition.

Brian Donahue, a strategist with Craft Media, told National Public Radio that when you see an ad like Ernst’s you’re also viewing a message based on political consultants’ understanding that emotion resonates more with voters than repetition.

It’s that emotional reverberation that sends it viral. “That causes what we call ‘the Buzzfeed effect,’ ” Donahue says, whose firm counts Republican political campaigns among its clients. “It compels you to do more than just shape an opinion. It compels you to share it too. Which is why so many people are seeing an ad like this.

“It did something different and it was so unpredictable,” Donahue says. “We had a female candidate running for office and she’s talking about castration and relates it to members of Congress, which is pretty unbelievable stuff. But beyond the race she’s running, people are sharing it online and that’s the effect you want to create. And that’s what emotionally, cutting-edge media does. It takes on its own life.”

Lori Raad, a consultant whose political-messaging firm, Something Else Strategies, is behind the Ernst ad, said she knew just the word itself was going to get noticed.

“Of course, our goal was for people to watch long enough to learn about Joni Ernst,” Raad says. “I wouldn’t have guessed that people would’ve linked to it to this extent, although you always hope.”


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