Last week’s special election in Georgia’s sixth Congressional District was the most expensive U.S. House race in history. A combined $50 million dollars was poured in by campaigns and outside groups to help candidates, Democratic Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, win the toss-up seat.
Several local news reports detailed how residents were overwhelmed by the volume of campaign advertising flashing across their television screens, tablets and airwaves. Direct mail piled in heaps, with the vast majority headed straight to the recycling bin.
One radio ad reminded us that an effective tactic is not always predicated by the amount of money put behind a spot in a political campaign, but rather its content. For example, following the shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and four others in Alexandria, Virginia, a group supporting Karen Handel released an ad featuring gunfire and Democrats’ alleged desire to reduce gun rights.
The ad cost roughly $50,000—one-tenth of one percent of all the money spent— and garnered local and national media attention. Coverage of the ad not only increased its value exponentially but forced both campaigns to denounce its tone and highlighted a hot-button issue for voters in the heavily Republican district: Second Amendment rights.
The Veritone® Platform tracked the number of times the ad appeared, both in its paid form and when replayed by local and national media outlets, such as the clip here. In GA6, this ad made waves and likely helped Karen Handel win her election to Congress, demonstrating that it doesn’t take a six-figure spot to make an impact.