With millions of dollars in campaign cash, the top candidates for the White House are making in-home deliveries of their tailored campaign messages. Among the Republicans, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul have mailed DVDs to Iowans. Among the Democrats, Barack Obama sent a biographical DVD to potential supporters in Iowa earlier this year. In mid-November John Edwards began mailing out an 80-page booklet that outlines his stand on a variety of issues.
"I want everyone in Iowa and voters across the country who are also interested in this to get a copy," Edwards said during a recent campaign stop in Des Moines. "…You won’t have to guess where I stand. You will know very specifically what I want to do as president of the United States."
Republican John McCain’s campaign developed a biographical DVD and has held house parties around the state to show it to potential supporters. In it, McCain talks about how his plane was shot down over Vietnam and he was captured by the Vietnamese. "I sank to the bottom of the lake and both my arms were broken and I was able to — with my teeth — to pull the toggle which inflated my life vest," McCain said. "…I sat up and saw my leg all bent and with that, one of them smashed my shoulder with a rifle butt."
Last week, Hillary Clinton’s campaign unveiled a DVD that’s being shown to potential supporters, explaining the Caucus process as the campaign claims a majority of Clinton’s supporters in Iowa have never been to a Caucus before.
While much media attention is focused on the ads the candidates run on television and radio, Drake University advertising professor Dorothy Pisarski says these DVDs and other material delivered directly to someone’s home let the recipient review it when it’s most convenient for them. "And you know when we get something delivered to our homes and it’s a that candidate we’re interested in — and let’s suppose, even, that we’ve not yet decided on a candidate, having something in front of us that’s specifically about one individual, one candidate — it’s a marvelous thing," Pisarski says. According to Pisarski, direct mail also provides great value because of its "permanancy."
"If someone is truly interested in supporting a candidate at the Caucuses, they can refer to their (direct mail) piece between now and January quite a few times," Pisarski says. "…If somebody wants to question them or they want to change their opinion, they can always refer back to a piece."
Pisarski isn’t sure the Clinton approach to having campaign staffers play the DVD for potential supporters is the best option. "One of the beauties of getting a DVD in your home is that you can watch it when you want. It’s your time schedule as opposed to watching a TV commercial, let’s say," Pisarski says. "…But to have to go to a certain location to watch it, while it does engage a sense of community, the downside is that then you are required to go on their schedule to their location."
Pisarski also wonders if the Clinton campaign is concerned that many Iowans don’t have a DVD player.