Several Republicans formed a PAC (Political Action Committee) called The Lincoln Project.
Their aim was to sway voters away from Trump in key states: Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida.
But they didn’t have enough money to advertise in those states.
So the first thing they had to do was raise money, but how could they do that when they couldn’t afford to advertise?
It turned out they didn’t need to advertise everywhere, they just needed a very tight target.
They made a single commercial from stock footage and ran it just once.
The commercial was a spoof of Ronald Reagan’s famous ad ‘Morning in America’, but this one was called ‘Mourning in America’.
Over stock footage of dead bodies, empty streets, and people in masks, the VO said:
“There’s mourning in America.
Today more than 60,000 Americans have died from a deadly virus Donald Trump ignored.
With the economy in a shambles, more than 26 million Americans are out of work.
It’s the worst economy in decades.
This afternoon, millions of Americans will apply for unemployment and, with their savings running out, many are giving up hope.
There’s mourning in America and, under the leadership of Donald Trump, our country’s weaker, and sicker, and poorer.
And now Americans are asking: “If we have another 4 years like this, will there even be an America?”
The commercial was only ever designed to run once, to an audience of one.
They knew Donald Trump watched Tucker Carlson on Fox News, so that’s where they ran it.
And, as they hoped, Trump did what he always does, he went berserk on twitter immediately.
He furiously tweeted: “A group of RINO Republicans who failed badly 12 years ago, then again 8 years ago, and then got BADLY beaten by me, a political first timer, 4 years ago, have copied (no imagination) the concept of an ad from Ronald Reagan, “Morning in America”, doing everything possible to get even for all their many failures.”
He immediately followed it with two more furious tweets.
Trump’s 79 million followers on Twitter saw it, an amazing media coup for the PAC.
The Trump camp immediately released a statement calling the PAC: ‘Scumbags’, ‘Scam artists’, ‘Bottom feeders’, ‘Political grifters’, and ‘Washed-up Washington swamp creatures’.
Which, of course, made the Lincoln Project’s commercial an absolute must-see, what could have goaded Trump into such an apoplectic fit of rage?
Because of Trump’s tweets, that single commercial got 17 million views, it immediately raised $2 million in donations from 25,000 new donors.
That money will now pay for advertising to run in the 3 key states they couldn’t afford: Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida.
And yet the airtime for that single spot cost just $5,000.
One member of the PAC, George Conway, said: “We obviously got a lot of attention thanks to the president, and we’re very grateful to him for that.”
Being able to target a single individual and provoke him into giving you many millions of dollars of free media is a brilliant move.
It also elevates the PAC, in the public’s mind, into serious players that Trump is worried about.
A fantastic return on a $5,000 media spend.
It’s known as the ‘Streisand Effect’.
A photographer once put some coastal pictures online and her house was one of them.
She sued him for $50 million and soon her house, which had previously been viewed by hardly anyone, was viewed by a million people.
Proving that it’s often better to just shut up and ignore whatever is annoying you.
For years, Burger King has been trying to provoke MacDonalds into answering back.
In its advertising it denigrates the Big Mac by comparing it against the Whopper.
Advertising people wonder why MacDonalds doesn’t answer back.
But McDonalds know as soon as they do, they are spending money to advertise Burger King.
Just the way Avis provoked Hertz, just the way Pepsi provoked Coke, just the way Apple provoked Microsoft.
The smart thing for the smaller guy to do is try to provoke the bigger guy,
The smart thing for the bigger guy to do is to shut up.