Beto’s ad strategy

Nothing wrong with a little low-tech outreach.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

Over the last year, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has drawn national fanfare as a thoroughly modern, digital-first campaign. He regularly draws an audience of thousands to his Facebook page by livestreaming mundane moments on the campaign trail, and he has outpaced most every other campaign in the country with the millions he’s spent on digital advertising.

Yet the El Paso Democrat has been also waging a more under-the-radar effort via more old-school mediums. For the past few months, O’Rourke’s campaign has been running ads on local radio stations and in certain publications in an effort to court voters he may be less likely to reach online, part of a six-figure investment to supplement his already-robust presence online.

It has unfolded ahead of O’Rourke’s biggest foray into paid, non-digital media yet — a $1.3 million TV buy that is set to begin Wednesday across the state. But in some communities, it will not be the first time they have seen or heard O’Rourke advertising offline.

The radio ads, which have not been previously reported, have fallen into at least two categories: spots that advise listeners of an upcoming O’Rourke appearance in their area and a half-minute commercial in which he introduces himself as the candidate “running against Ted Cruz for the Senate because I believe in the people of Texas.”


Among the radio ads that O’Rourke has run to get out the word about his events have been in the Rio Grande Valley, where he has acknowledged he needs to do better after losing some counties there to a little-known opponent in the March primary. For example, back in May, O’Rourke ran minute-long radio ads on McAllen stations in the hours before he went block walking and held a town hall in the border city.

At least some of the radio and print ads appear to be aimed at black voters. The 30-second radio spot has aired on urban contemporary stations like KGGR in Dallas and KHVN in Fort Worth, and the print ads have shown up in African-American newspapers such as the Houston Defender and Dallas Examiner, touching on issues including jobs, education and health care.

You can listen to the radio spot and see a print ad at the link above. There’s a lot to like about this. It reaches out to voters who aren’t Internet users or regular TV watchers. It’s consistent with his visit-everywhere strategy. It addresses a weakness from the primary. The ads cross-promote his town halls and rallies, which are where the magic really happens for his campaign. The cost is low, so there’s no negative effect on the budget for larger ad expenditures. Knowing this is happening gives me an extra level of faith in his campaign. Well done.

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7 Responses to Beto’s ad strategy

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    Would suggest he do the same here in Harris County, there as many Spanish surname voters as in the Valley.

    Lupe Valdez has a much larger presence in Spanish TV here than Beto, not sure why. By that I mean she is mentioned more often.

    He lost the Valley for the same reason people like C.L. tend to vote for people that look like him.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    I’ve already seen a couple of Beto’s TV ads. Funny, though, I haven’t heard a Beto commercial on the radio. Maybe he’s not advertising on 700, 740, or 106.9?

  3. C.L. says:

    @Manny.. Seriously, dude ? You have absolutely no idea who I’ve voted for nor who I intend to vote for. Howabout we make a deal – you don’t tell me how I act or feel or how I’ll vote, and I’ll reciprocate.

  4. Manny Barrera says:

    C.L. I don’t even know what color or nationality you are.

    But in another note was looking at Beto events in Houston, and did notice that much is being done in the Latino areas.

    Ok C.L. I am kinda lika the (sleeping giant – Latinos voting) but unlike him, I wake up easy and remember why I woke up.

    Democrats who are depending on Beto to get them elected better not count on it. He is the first campaign on the ballot, so they make vote for him and stop there. Too many Democrats are doing what they all do going to all the political meetings and not working the voters.

  5. Manny Barrera says:

    may vote for him

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    Ha! C.L. admits he votes here, and you don’t know what his nationality is. Maybe that is because so many non citizens illegally vote in US elections.

    You just told on yourself.

  7. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill did they let you out again? Or did you escape?

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