Center of the American Experiment’s “Think About It” campaign is an ongoing series of radio ads with a structure and voice that carry through the entire campaign. The ads all begin with the phrase “Think About It” and then raise questions about current public policy topics. For example:
“Think about it: Black and Hispanic students in Mississippi perform better in reading and math than Black and Hispanic students in Minnesota…”
“Think about it: Governor Tim Walz is forcing California’s electric car mandates on our state…”
“Think about it: In just ten years, the Minnesota state budget grew from 14 billion dollars to 26 billion dollars…”
American Experiment produced each radio ad using the same voice talent in an effort to build familiarity over time.
The original campaign spent $127,000 over three months—beginning with five different ads that rotated during Minnesota’s 2021 legislative session. The goal was to buy enough ads to penetrate both the Twin Cities and statewide radio markets. The campaign delivered almost two million impressions in the first quarter of 2021, including broadcast and streaming ads.
Three of the radio ads promoted a website that featured a specific call to action, including reaching out to legislators and/or signing a petition.
The audio for each 30-second radio ad was also used as the soundtrack for a video that American Experiment promoted on Facebook and their website. Again, they used similar graphics for the videos in order to build brand awareness over time.
In the past, American Experiment had a budget for brand building and a budget for issue campaigns. The Think About It campaign allowed the organization to accomplish both at the same time using the Think About It theme with multiple different policy topics. The standard structure gave the organization the flexibility to add two new ads dealing with emerging topics during the legislative session. Once produced, the new ads were added to the rotation, with never more than two separate messages running at the same time.
The organization recently produced a new Think About It ad for their current campaign supporting Minnesota police: “Think about it: Murders in Minneapolis are up one hundred and eight percent so far in twenty twenty-one. Shootings and carjackings are even worse…”
There was significant audience engagement to the Think About It campaign. The radio ads that included calls to action contributed to thousands of emails sent to legislators, including 834 emails sent to each member of a conference committee as they were deliberating Green New Deal provisions (which were eventually dropped).
American Experiment’s Communications Director, Bill Walsh, added:
“The ads were heard millions of times by hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans, and they helped raise the awareness of American Experiment’s brand. The team at American Experiment made a substantial commitment to this campaign, and using a consistent theme like Think About It made it more effective as a brand-building effort. We plan to make the Think About It theme an ongoing campaign, with each new ad building on the overall brand awareness.”
American Experiment is learning more about radio advertising and how to maximize the impact of their money in this medium. Future Think About It campaigns will be more focused on audience targeting and will be integrated with other marketing such as billboards, social media, and digital advertising.
For their innovative campaign to build their brand, Center of the American Experiment is a finalist in State Policy Network’s Communications Excellence Awards, in the Bold Brand Boost Award Category.