Political Advertising

Candidate Endorses Construction Firm

Tom Emmer (R), who is seeking the GOP nomination in Minnesota’s 6th congressional district, has filmed an advertisement in which he touts his candidacy and endorses a construction firm.

Politics in Minnesota: “Former Federal Elections Commission general counsel Larry Noble said the possibility of the ad running afoul of campaign finance regulations would depend on the financial arrangements made between the candidate and the company. To his way of thinking, Emmer’s labeling himself a candidate for office and the appearance of the ‘Emmer for Congress’ sign mean the commercial should qualify as an advertisement for Emmer, and money spent on the ad should be disclosed as a campaign contribution.”

Obama Campaign Says Mobile Ads Worked

President Obama’s reelection campaign “spent millions on mobile ads that targeted down to the neighborhood level in battleground states,” Adweek reports.

The campaign claims “targeting on-the-go voters moved the needle, underscoring a 2012 that saw the mobile marketing space seemingly toddle towards significantly impacting the larger advertising world… Democratic operatives said they got click-through rates from 3 percent to 19.5 percent during the race’s crucial stretch run when Mitt Romney appeared to surge in late October and early November.”

The Decline of American Politics

John Ellis: “Roughly speaking, over $1 billion was spent this year on negative campaign commercials. Basically, every two years, the American political parties and their candidates tell the electorate that politics is a filthy, rotten, corrupt business filled with lying weasels and thieving scoundrels. Not surprisingly (and not without reason), the electorate increasingly believes that politics at the national level (and on down) is a cesspool.”

“Combined with a malignantly intrusive and increasingly reckless media, the net effect is to make any sensible person avoid political life at all costs. Talent goes elsewhere. The political system suffers. It’s bad and it’s getting worse. The quality of Congressional representation in Washington has declined precipitously.”

Voters Do Not Like Targeted Ads

A new study from the Annenberg School for Communication found that 86% of voters do not want political campaigns to match ads to their interests.

New York Times: “The results of the study come at a time when national and local political campaigns are steadily increasing their use of technology that traditional marketers use to tailor advertising. For political campaigns, the process is called microtargeting. Information about voters — like the charitable donations they make, the type of credit card they use and the Congressional district they live in — is combined with voter registration records, and the result allows campaigns to send certain types of messages to voters.”

Proving Which Campaign Ads are Most Effective

Sasha Issenberg notes that political campaigns used to guess which ads were most effective, but the Obama re-election campaign is trying to prove it using random tests.

“To those familiar with the campaign’s operations, such irregular efforts at paid communication are indicators of an experimental revolution underway at Obama’s Chicago headquarters. They reflect a commitment to using randomized trials… designed to track the impact of campaign messages as voters process them in the real world, instead of relying solely on artificial environments like focus groups and surveys.”

When Candidates Get Desperate, They Try to Scare You

Rick Santorum’s eerie new ad “Welcome to Obamaville” isn’t the first time a candidate to tried to scare Americans into voting for him.

As Dave Weigel notes, “There’s a history here, a rich tradition of ads from candidates who predict doom if they don’t win. These candidates, being desperate, usually lose. America endures. But the ads keep coming anyway.”

Why We Have So Many Negative Political Ads

Paul Begala: “The biggest reason negative ads are so ubiquitous in politics, but much less common in commercial advertising, is this: elections present a mutually exclusive choice. It is legal to buy a can of Coke and a can of Pepsi on the same day, but you can’t vote for Obama and Romney in the same election. That mutual exclusivity pushes campaigns to frame the choice more sharply. Imagine if we had Cola Day once every four years — and you were stuck with your choice for those four years. Coke would say Pepsi makes you fat; Pepsi would counterattack that Coke makes you impotent. And they’d go downhill from there.”

“So the next time a public moralist starts lamenting the role of negative advertising in our political system, just explain that it’s an outgrowth of the stakes involved. As the old saying has it, politics ain’t beanbag — and a political campaign isn’t selling soft drinks. The outcome matters — and influencing it is worth every negative word or image a candidate and his team can muster.”

Attack Ad of the Day

A campaign mailer from New Jersey Assemblyman Scott Rumana (R) “is essentially a full campaign’s worth of opposition research” against opponent Bill Brennan (D), “slapped into one glossy brochure and sent to homes in Wayne Township.”

“Included in the piece are pictures of at least five police reports filed against Brennan, excerpts from a judge’s ruling in a court case filed by Brennan, a copy of a building code violation issued to Brennan and even a picture of the shirtless Democrat in the act of blocking a code inspector from photographing his patio.”