Some candidates, despite their best efforts, have trouble appearing human and relatable to voters. Sam Dealey, a journalist-turned media consultant, thinks docu-style advertising is the remedy.
“Republicans, particularly, have a problem with just letting candidates be themselves — whether it’s Bob Dole or Mitt Romney,” he says. “But after the election, when all the consultants and all the handlers go away, they go on Leno or they go on Letterman and suddenly they’re totally different people and everyone goes, ‘Geez, where was that guy during the campaign?”
Dealey, a former editor of The Washington Times, tries to package candid moments together in the campaign ads he produces.
“People just do not behave in a normal way when a camera is on them,” he says. “Our whole approach to this is to be non-intrusive and just get in there and get them very comfortable with the camera and follow them around and just take those candid moments.”
Dealey, a principal at Monument Communications, is currently producing spots for Kevin Faulconer, a Republican city councilman running in the mayoral special election in San Diego. Some of his spots feature interviews with supporters, or with Faulconer while he drives around the city.
“We would just follow him around. Five minutes here, five minutes there,” says Dealey. “I would interview him like a journalist and he would get more and more comfortable and start to have a real conversation. And he, himself as a person came through. That can get lost for a lot of candidates.”
Dealey calls his approach: “Journalism 101.”
Meanwhile, the documentary approach seems to have worked for Romney — albeit fifteen months too late. The newly released Netflix doc “Mitt” has been credited with making the former GOP presidential nominee seem “all too human.”
How successful the style is for Faulconer could be judged Feb. 11 when voters go to the polls to elect a permanent successor to Democrat Bob Filner, who was forced to resign in disgrace last summer.