It Just Goes Too Far: Perfect Messaging in South Dakota



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The advertising has begun in South Dakota for the No on Six campaign, attempting to repeal that state's restrictive abortion ban passed by the legislature. The first ad from South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families (SDCHF) introduces the prohibition on abortion and asks if "the victim of rape or incest should be left with no option" or "the mother whose health would be seriously threatened" and concludes "it just goes too far." Watch the ad from SDCHF at the bottom of this page.

The law certainly does go too far, way too far. But the ad looks to be pitch perfect!

From a strategic perspective the ad looks solid. It starts from a common understanding "South Dakotans agree, honor and protect human life, reduce the number of abortions," — this helps draw in undecided voters as it is unclear where the ad is going. The ad uses imagery people can relate to, pictures of real people, a couple talking with a doctor, good use of music to underscore the problems with the law and a very clear message, "it just goes too far."

Calls into the campaign to learn about the size of the ad buy have not yet been returned, but it is interesting to note that the No on Six campaign is up on TV before the proponents of the ban. Leading the opposition, Leslee Unruh of Vote Yes For Life told a reporter that the proponents were not concerned about not being on TV yet. "We're not reacting. We play offense, not defense."

Being up with TV ads early is a good sign as long as the campaign understands that one of the most common strategies of the far right is to back load their ad buys into the final two weeks of the campaign such that the total ad buys may be equal, but the effect is a 2:1 or sometimes 3:1 ad ratio favoring far right campaigns in the final days. This argues for ensuring there are enough resources in the campaign to keep the ratio in the final days more balanced, and if they do that, then being on TV first is a huge strategic advantage.

RH Reality Check will be following the strategic messaging and other developments in South Dakota, California, Oregon and in other races around the country where reproductive health and rights are being discussed. Our coverage will include on-the-ground perspective from bloggers watching each of the major ballot initative campaigns as well as our own analysis. Stay tuned!

(Ad below by South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Famililes)

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