Edwards and Huckabee's Latest Ads Show Value of Direct Speaking

I’m sure many are already sick of the election cycle, even though it hasn’t really begun yet. But if you are a political junkie, it doesn’t get much better than a wide-open race in both parties. It’s also fasciniating from an ad perspective to chart the strategies of the candidates.

The two surging candidates in Iowa, John Edwards and Mike Huckabee have both chosen the direct speaking route in their newest ads. No fluff. No mood piece. Just direct speaking. These are “closer” spots. With the Iowa caucus two weeks away, and the Christmas and New Year holidays in between, these are spots that are like closing arguments in a courtroom.

Saving the Middle Class will be an “epic fight,” says Edwards, who calls it a fight he “was born for.” Iowans would have to be brain-dead at this point not to know Edwards’ story as a trial lawyer who came from humble beginnings. Look for Edwards to create at least one more spot before the break, looking Iowans in the eye and closing his case.

Contrast this with Huckabee, who is running an ad just wishing Iowans a “Merry Christmas.”

He even “shares their pain,” Clinton style about all the political ads they must be sick of by now. What the ad does, of course, is reinforce Huckabee as THE Christian candidate. The Republican discourse in the last weeks has been amazing. Listening to the GOP debate, Mitt Romney’s speech on his mormonism and the resulting chatter, one would think the most pressing issue in America was school prayer. By the way, as the camera pans Huckabee, it creates a backdrop of a white cross behind him from the book-case that’s on the commercial set. Nice touch. Spooky. But nice touch.

These ads make me wonder why more companies and brands, once in a while, just don’t have someone from the company talking directly to the camera. General Motors has done this with Buick recently, featuring its designers. They are the first Buick ads in years and years I have actually paid attention to. Maybe direct speaking is a forgotten tactic whose time is due.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.