TASK: The Candidates' Secret Playbook
The candidates' secret playbook
In order for campaign commercials to be effective, they need to follow a carefully crafted narrative structure. In other words, storytelling, for example the way arguments are presented or a candidate’s biography is told, makes campaigns effective.
a. What's in the candidates' secret playbook?
Watch the video “How to win an election” by the NYTimes. Marc McKinnon, a former campaign strategist for both election campaigns of George W. Bush, talks about the power of storytelling in running successful political campaigns. Take notes on the following questions:
- What are the vital components of a political campaign, according to Mr. McKinnon?
- What does he mean by “narrative architecture”? More specifically, what does he mean by threat, fear, opportunity, hope, villain, resolution, hero, victim?
- “There is no question that people can be seduced by a story.” (7:22) – What does this mean for political campaigns? Do you agree with this statement? Discuss.
b. Identifying an ad's narrative architecture
Select two commercials from the previous activity (TASK: Campaign Ads) – one by Trump and one by Clinton. Can you identify a 'narrative architecture' in these commercials? Can you identify the motives of threat, fear, opportunity, hope, villain, resolution, hero, and victim?
You can share your analysis in the database Learner Texts.