“Positivity Matters: An Open Letter to Candidates” by Chris Preston

By the minneapolis egotist / /

In an effort to make his own positive difference, Chris Preston, principal and creative director at Minneapolis-based marketing agency Preston Kelly, is reaching out to the political candidates vying for election in the mid-terms with an open letter arguing for the effects of positivity

Dear candidates,

Congratulations on your win in the primaries. As you ramp up your marketing machines for the midterm battles, we the people have a suggestion.
Find your best, most positive, authentic self.
Sell the heck out of that self.


No doubt you’ve already been tempted to go negative, or been encouraged to do so by your trusted advisors. Perhaps they’ve even guided winning campaigns in the past. But as an advertising agency owner in the current marketing climate, our brand research for clients from healthcare to home improvement, from the local Y to national retailers, shows consumers are ready for “positive change.” While the ambitious politicians among you will clearly hear the word “change” and move forward with jugular-ripping ferocity, we believe it’s actually the word “positive” that will ultimately win this political cycle.

But, polite politicians get eaten, right? Or worse, forgotten? Maybe in the past, but today we’re looking at a social media-fueled smear cycle that you simply cannot outshout. Instead, looking for what is right with a brand, in this case, you, has been shown to have a significant sales lift over negative tactics. Even six years ago 80% of consumers said they’d be more likely to purchase from a company that shows it makes a positive difference in people’s lives (Source: Good Purpose Study, 2012). And they’re far more likely to share an image that makes them feel happy (Source: Emotional Response to Viral Images, Fracti 2015). The most shared ad of all time, “Google Android’s “Friends Furever,” made consumers feel almost four times as happy as the average ad (Source: Unruly Pulse, Business Wire, 2016). Of course, policy is important and dynamic leadership can help you get things done, but it is actually two things—standing out from the crowd, and a hopeful belief for a better future­—that makes brands win and we believe will help undecided voters to fill in your little black circle in the upcoming campaign (Source: The New Science of Customer Emotions, 2015).

Yes, there is satisfaction in striking a negative blow against a stumbling opponent. But in so doing, you are most likely to only reach your current fans and increase your risk of missing, confusing or repelling critical undecided voters. See presidential campaign 2016. If you want to reach the undecided voters, it’s actually hope coupled with a clear plan to achieve policy objectives that will win. Today, smear tactics only cloud what you stand for and keep your opponent’s name top of mind. Besides, it’s destroying our democracy, and devaluing your entire brand category.

Final note. As a creative director, I’m obligated to say “looking for the good” does not and cannot mean “be boring.” Or predictable. The Wellstone green bus was a frenetic breath of fresh air. The Ventura action figure was unexpected and unexpectedly effective. By all means, take on the issues. Take on the establishment or fend off the wolves, but do it in your own positive style. We the people will love you for it.

Though we use no.2 pencils, we actually vote with our hearts.

Chris Preston


  1. Zaar September 7, 2018

    Chris, this is wonderful. Who knows, there may be hope for us yet. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Cole September 10, 2018

    Love this. Hope they’ll listen.

  3. Chuck A September 11, 2018

    And yet we keep voting for the negative nincompoops.

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