Unlike product or service advertising, there doesn’t appear to be much consequence to running misleading or “fact-check”-worthy ads in national and local elections. The real repercussions are often provided in alternative TV and print from the opposing camp and this presidential year is no exception.
Sometimes the advertising is just more noise in the atmosphere. But some ads have lasting value and impact in the electorate’s collective mind.
In both the Obama and Romney camps – there have been ads that have gotten as much press about their content, than the number of airings they have had on television. New York is at a particular loss in terms of media dollars since we are not one of the critical swing states that are up-for-grabs and will probably get the advertising barrage just prior to Election Day.
But writing as an undecided voter and regardless of your loyalty, political advertisements that I believe are worthy watching for their sheer intensity include:
Wall Street meets Sesame Street: After hearing the original mention in the first presidential debate about Governor Romney’s belief in withholding federal funds for PBS the tweets went crazy over poor Big Bird. I had heard and read a little bit about this spot and my understanding is that Sesame Workshop requested that it be removed from the airwaves .
I do seem to remember seeing it during an airing of Saturday Night Live. Though ironically, ,from the looks of the spot, it seems like it was developed by SNL as opposed to being paid advertising for the show!
The Mute Button: This commercial speaks to an article written by the well-known writer, Bob Woodward suggesting that Obama’s Democratic leadership team put him on mute rather than listen to him during discussion on the Stimulus package negotiations.
As asked in the ad, “If he (Obama) cannot lead his own party, how can he lead America?” According to an Ad Age article, as of Oct. 9, this spot never aired. Voters – you decide.
A Blast from the Past: Whenever I show students iconic or classic commercials, this “Daisy” ad for President Lyndon Johnson’s reelection campaign in 1964 must be considered.
Because of its stark symbolism, it must be prefaced with an explanation: how President Johnson was running against Barry Goldwater and this was, according to a report from ABC News the first use of creative political advertising to sell fears about the potential of nuclear war under a Goldwater administration.
This was advertising that hit you not just rationally (appealing to the mind) but emotionally (appealing to the heart) too. It is exceptionally bold and supposedly lays the groundwork for all the emotional appeals in political advertising that have come ever since.
Political advertising is meant to be as controversial as the candidates and their positions. It is built to be noticed by the electorate and to get us aware and involved.
But stepping over that fragile line, from spirited to spiteful, from creative to cruel can occur in an instant, or more appropriately, in 30 seconds. It is up to us as citizens to watch carefully and not blink.