Clay Aiken’s Campaign Ad Is Personal, Political and Nearly Perfect

Singer quickly proves congressional bid is no joke

Headshot of David Griner

It's hard to say what we were expecting from reality TV star Clay Aiken's first campaign ad in his congressional campaign, but this certainly isn't it.

Instead of leveraging his fame or playing to the media circus around his decision to run for a House seat from North Carolina, he has created a political ad that's thoughtful, sincere and just an all-around example of great storytelling.

Filmed in one seamless five-minute shot, Aiken's ad was filmed in the home where he and his mother sought refuge from his abusive father. Aiken patiently unravels the story of his life and political awakening, gradually transitioning into his criticisms of his district's current legislator, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers. 

Ellmers is a Republican and Aiken a Democrat, a fact he quickly shrugs off as if it's a mere technicality unrelated to the matters at hand. But of course it will matter. This ad is sure to have its critics, since we live in a political era that seems incapable of respecting any message that comes from a messenger on the other side of the aisle.

But politicians from both parties would be wise to watch Aiken's video and learn from his ability to come across as humble, informed and sincere. He may not have the "aw, shucks" everyman persona of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but he's about as close as you're going to find in 2014.

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."