Political Advertising

The Willie Horton Ad of 2014

“The National Republican Congressional Committee went up with an ad Friday tying the Democratic nominee in a competitive Nebraska House race to Nikko Jenkins, a former inmate convicted of murdering four people after his early release from jail,” Roll Call reports.

“It’s an ad reminiscent of the Willie Horton spot former President George H.W. Bush ran in 1988, tying his Democratic opponent to a convicted murderer who raped a woman while on a weekend pass from prison.”

Campaigns Looking for Prime Spots on the Web

“It turns out that the Internet does not have infinite capacity. At least not for political ads,” the New York Times reports.

“As an increasing number of campaigns and outside groups are finding out, premium space on the web has long been booked. Digital advertising is maturing much in the way television did, as targeting becomes more sophisticated and the definition of a viewer expands drastically… The more savvy players in the coming midterm elections made pre-emptive strikes to ensure ad placement when it matters most.”

The Best TV Shows for Political Ads

“Six weeks before Election Day, campaigns are deciding where and when they want to air their political ads all over the country. But not all shows and networks are equal in the eyes of media buyers. They have more choices than ever, and they approach these decisions with deliberation and armed with ratings data,” Roll Call reports.

“In interviews, operatives repeatedly said they look for three kinds of programs for political ads: Live events, and shows that attract women and seniors. Both parties fight fiercely for the female demographic, and seniors serve as one of the most reliable voting blocs in a midterm.”

Distorted Audio in Ad Draws Criticism

Connecticut gubernatorial candidate John McKinney (R) ran his first ad of the election cycle which included audio of rival Tom Foley (R) that was significantly edited to change its meaning, the Hartford Courant reports.

In the commercial, Foley is twice heard saying, “I’m not going to cut spending.”

But according to the original audio from the radio station that ran the interview, Foley actually said the following: “I’m not saying I’m going to cut spending; I’m saying I’m going to hold spending flat.”

Political Ad Targeting Gets More Sophisticated

Wall Street Journal: “The new technology borrows heavily from traditional targeting methods that use information about where a person lives, how they have voted and what products they buy to predict future political behavior, and combines that research with richer-than-ever data about what shows people watch and when they watch them.”

“The result, writ large, is revolutionizing the billion-dollar business of political advertising, with implications for those who buy and sell it.”

Politicians Release Wierd B-Roll Video

Huffington Post: “Political campaigns are not allowed to coordinate their efforts with the super PACs that nominally support them — or so they would have us believe, which we do not. So when a super PAC needs choice, clean, professional footage of the candidates they support but aren’t allowed to talk to, what’s it to do?”

“Well, in recent months, candidates have found an end-run around campaign finance law by posting strange videos of B-roll footage to the internet for super PACs to use. Of course, that means we can use it too, to make fun of the candidates, as we’ve done here with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who has a weird thing for standing alone in fields.”

Fox Blocks Quinn’s Ad

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) “wasted little time likening his Republican rival Bruce Rauner to one of pop culture’s most infamous rich guys: C. Montgomery Burns of The Simpsons, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“The Quinn campaign put a new web ad up making the unflattering comparison as the governor continues a class warfare theme against his general election foe. Quinn argues Rauner’s wealth leaves him out of touch with everyday people. The ad features snippets of Burns, the evil owner of Springfield’s nuclear power plant in the long-running animated series.”

But the ad quickly was blocked on YouTube with a message that reads “This video contains content from FOX, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

Voters Not Watching TV

“Voters increasingly are ditching live television in favor of streaming shows and movies on their smartphones or tablets, according to new research commissioned by digital firms and shared with Politico — findings that suggest campaigns need to embrace new types of advertising to reach them.”

“The survey… indicates that reaching key voters — especially young people, independents and minorities — will require campaigns to think beyond the typical 30-second live TV ad.”

Crying Babies as Politicians

National Journal: “Political ad maker Fred Davis is back at it. The Republican adman, with an eye for the unusual and a penchant for the outlandish, has produced a web video casting the opponents of a Georgia Senate candidate as crying babies.”

“The video is just Davis’ latest entry in the category of offbeat political ads that have, over the last two decades, featured convicts in pink tutus, ‘demon sheep,’ a giant rat stomping across Georgia, Christine O’Donnell’s infamous claim that ‘I’m not a witch,’ and an Asian actress speaking broken English in a 2012 Michigan ad that was attacked as racist.”

Targeted Political Ads Come to TV

Washington Post: “Dish Network and DirecTV on Monday announced a plan to jointly give political advertisers the ability to microtarget their ads down to the household level. That means that any of over 20 million homes in the United States will soon start getting highly personalized campaign spots that were meant just for them.”

“Here’s how it works: While your set-top box is idle, it’ll tune into a channel that’s playing the ad you’re meant to see. It’ll record the ad using DVR, then insert it into your regular programming while you’re watching a show — replacing or bumping the ad that was supposed to air instead. This can be replicated for any household that subscribes to Dish or DirecTV, so a political strategist can pick you out and feed you a unique message.”