The best ad of 2013

December 11, 2013

It's awards season here at the Fix. We've already named our best and worst campaigns of the year and today we pick the best ad.


This is a TV.

NOMINEES FOR BEST AD

* "Shaq" (Chris Christie)

* "Dante" (Bill de Blasio)

* "Mark and Tucker" (Mark Obenshain)

* "Right Direction" (Chris Christie)

* "Change Washington" (Mark Sanford)

* "Trust" (Terry McAuliffe)

And the winner is.... "Dante".

It might not have been a major election year, but 2013 saw plenty of campaign ads. Here's our pick for the year's best. (Natalie Jennings/(In Play))

No single ad had a bigger impact on a race than this one, which featured the mayor-elect's son talking about why his dad was the right choice for voters.  If the entire Democratic primary in New York City was about finding the candidate who would represent the cleanest break with the 12 years of Mayor Michael Bloomberg (and it was) then this ad was the 30 seconds that won de Blasio the race.

It's worth watching in its entirety.

From a messenger standpoint, Dante de Blasio was a visible symbol that his dad's mayorship would be different. The product of a biracial couple sporting a huge Afro (Oscar Gamble would have been proud!), Dante looked like totally different than the jet-setting billionaire that had served as the City's mayor for more than a decade.  The scenes of Brooklyn in the spot added to the sense that Bill de Blasio wasn't the chosen candidate of Manhattan's one-percenters. And, the kicker of the ad -- Dante revealed that he was de Blasio's son -- was perfectly played and poignant.

The message was right on too.  Dante de Blasio noted that his father is the "only Democrat with the guts to break from the Bloomberg years" who would end "stop and frisk" and raise taxes on the wealthy. In 30 seconds, Dante makes a case that Chris Quinn couldn't make in the entirety of her many-year campaign: That she was -- stylistically and policy-wise -- someone very different than Bloomberg. (“That ad,”  a Quinn aide  told the Daily Beast. “Killed us.”)

While de Blasio had already begun his remarkably upward movement in Democratic primary polls when "Dante" began airing, the ad quite clearly fueled his building momentum.  In July, polling showed him running second. By August, as the ad seeped into the consciousness of NYC voters, he had surged into first place -- a position he never relinquished. And, give credit to de Blasio's campaign team -- including John Del Cecato of AKPD Media who crafted the ad -- for understanding they had something special in the "Dante" commercial. According to Kantar Media/CMAG data, the "Dante" ad was the single most-run commercial of the entire New York City mayoral race.

Message. Messenger. Timing. It all came together in this de Blasio ad.

Tomorrow: The worst ad of 2013

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Scott Clement · December 11, 2013