The Lincoln Project was launched in late 2019 by a group of high-profile Republicans (or ex-Republicans) who see the current president as “a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our Republic” and who seek to “defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box.” (Read more about the Lincoln Project.)
Worthy goals, supported by a sober, elegantly designed website.* So why were the Lincoln Project’s first ads, which appeared before this week’s New Hampshire primary election, such an amateurish bungle?
The @ProjectLincoln placed this billboard facing @realDonaldTrump rally, offering a warm welcome the President.— Jennifer Horn (@NHJennifer) February 10, 2020
#NH #FITN #CountryOverParty @reedgalen @gtconway3d @SteveSchmidtSES @jwgop @madrid_mike @RonSteslow @TheRickWilson pic.twitter.com/3mgpiPOyON
Got that?** No? Let’s zoom in.
Keep in mind that this is outdoor advertising. It’s high above street level, and even if you’re cruising by at a stately New England pace, you’ll have mere milliseconds to process the … what shall we call it? Content? Verbiage? How about shitshow?
It’s only slightly better in print.
The ad appeared in the New Hampshire Union Leader.
At least with the print version you can tell, sort of, that the hairy orange eyeball thingy is meant to be a peach. (And I think it’s a peach to suggest “impeach,” but frankly, your guess is as good as mine. Is that a bruise? A spot of rot? And why? I don’t dare to think about it.)
Here, to enumerate what should have been obvious to its creators, is what’s wrong with the billboard:
1. No focus. Yes, there’s the giant hairy eyeball, but it conveys no information. #IMPOTUS and the Lincoln Project logo compete for our attention over on the left—and the Lincoln Project’s URL is missing in action. The quotes? A mishmash.
2. Too much type. Four or five words are about all our brains can process when we’re moving at automobile speed. Billboards call for slogans, not manifestos.
3. No call to action. What’s the point? What does the Lincoln Project want us to think and do? There’s no strategy here, so there’s no impact.
Let’s say the billboard cost $2,500 (the median cost of billboard rental in small to midsize cities). That’s $2,500 flushed down the toilet—$2,500 that could have been spent on a hard-hitting, memorable ad that made New Hampshire voters stop, think, and maybe change their minds.
I want to be pulling for the Lincoln Project. But if its founders intend to make waves, they’re going to have to bring their messaging up to a professional level.
Previous posts about bad outdoor advertising:
- SF Environment / Talking Is Teaching (a double feature!)
- Go Tahoe North
- Sunlee jasmine rice
* It pains me to point out a rookie error in the website: The link to “our feature in the New York Times” goes not to a feature story but to an op-ed piece by four of the Lincoln Project’s founders. Opinion pieces are not “features.”
** And did you spot the missing word in the tweet? And what’s up with “warm welcome,” when that clearly isn’t the intended message?