Our favorite (Dem) launch videos
It’s that time of year again, when some of our favorite candidates and consultants put together one of the rituals that has become common for bigger budget campaigns in America – the launch video.
Since the 2018 cycle, it’s become common for candidates running for House, Senate and President to rely on launch videos to jump-start their campaigns, offering a bite-sized, emotionally-charged taste of their platform. If they are cool enough to be replayed, they can go viral and provide a fundraising boost.
We wanted to send you some of our favorite Democratic launch videos of all time. Now most normal folks wouldn’t sit around and watch a bunch of launch videos, but you’re on a political consultant’s email list, so we figured you just might.
Also, one of the many ironies about great launch videos is that it seems that the better the launch video the more likely the candidate is to lose – most of the folks below actually did lose their campaigns.
Amy McGrath “Told me” (2018)
Honestly this is my personal favorite of the genre and actually caused me to stop what I was doing and donate money. Mark Putnam, you’re welcome.
John Fetterman “Launch” (2022)
Fetterman is one of a (newish) breed of candidates who are real, gritty and not afraid to show it. This video screams authenticity. Well done.
Valerie Plame “Undercover” (2020)
A victim of the George W. Bush administration, Valerie Plame is probably America’s most famous former spy. While I really dug the video, by the 2020 campaign cycle, George W. Bush looked downright good to most Democratic base voters. So, I think this would have done much better if it was ran in say 2008. And hey, I had already given to her legal fund at a delightful fundraiser her now late former husband hosted.
Randy Bryce “Iron Stache” (2018)
Bryce was running in his fourth campaign in six years, this time against then-Speaker Paul Ryan. Despite his campaign being marred with stories of past (bad) actions and legal trouble, he raised millions with online video including this one.
MJ Hagar “Doors” (2018)
Doors was a hard one for me to include in this list and probably the one I debate about the most with other consultants when this topic comes up. I personally hate it, think the concept is too contrived, but for many, this is one of their favorites. So I bow to the crowd, and decide for yourself.
Brandon Presley “Heartbeat” (2023)
I wasn’t going to include any of this cycles crop but I really liked this one for Governor of Mississippi. Also had the fortune of being one of the earlier ones of the season and he’s Elvis’ cousin so what the hell.
Gary Chambers “37 Seconds” (2022)
Running a no-hope race against Republican Sen. John “no relation” Kennedy in Louisiana, Chambers got a great launch with this video. My question for Erick Sanchez – how many blunts did you go through shooting this?
Ray McGuire for Mayor “Now You Know” (2021)
Running for Mayor of New York is no easy task. McGuire had a stellar launch including this video narrated by Spike Lee, raised $5 million practically instantly. But when he greatly underestimated the median cost of a home in Brooklyn, his candidacy tanked and he finished seventh. Still dig the video tho.
Chris Jones “About Time” (2022)
When the people of Arkansas could have elected this guy against Sarah Huckabee Sanders it shows you how tough of a state this is for a Democrat to win. Voters, y’all made the wrong choice.
AOC “The Courage to Change” (2018)
Great video for a great candidate. If you don’t understand the AOC phenomena and don’t get it after watching this, you never will. The title became the name of her Leadership PAC.
Stacey Evans “16 Homes” (2018)
Stacey Evans is one of the better candidates you’ve probably never heard of, mostly because she had the misfortune to run for Governor in the primary against the powerhouse that was/is Stacey Abrams.
Honorable Mention: Bernie Sanders “America” (2016)
I wasn’t going to include Presidential stuff in here as it’s just a different deal – bigger budgets, access to celebrities etc. And it’s not really a launch video but many remember it as one. But I really think this is great stuff, so including it in the list.
Bill Clinton “The Man from Hope” (1992)
Now, this last one definitely isn’t a launch video, it was shown at the convention and produced by Bill’s Hollywood buddies. I think it’s where the genre generated from, because the current generation of political consultants had this as a formative relaunch experience and it still affects them today … hey, when I get to the big leagues I’m gonna make stuff like that!
Still reading this far? You’re either a consultant, a phone vendor, a total junkie or … maybe even a candidate who wants to launch their campaign. If you’re the latter, give me a call. If you’re a consultant or especially a phone vendor, buy me a drink.