Ad Wars: Why Obama’s Winning

August 28, 2008

Presidential races have had a history of being dirty and under the rug, and political cheap shots were never hard to find. But this year, in an already breakthrough election, candidates have thrown out more ads recently than ever before. Political standoffs between two parties or campaigns have usually resulted (or been the result) of an attack ad, complicating already very political situations by letting the general public have an unusually high say on the outcome. Thus, TV spots have turned into political weapons — with endings both beneficent and disastrous to their authors. 

Most recently, these political ads taken huge strides in the form of attacks back and forth from the two remaining candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain. Although Obama has just recently started sending out “attack” ads, mostly as responses to McCain’s harsh accusations. The first real sign of this was McCain’s “Celebrity” ad, which was the result of a non lethal (in the sense of attacks) but heated standoff between the two senators.

The ad, sent out by a semingly fearless McCain squad, compared Obama to the star-struck Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and was responded to in a surprising fashion — by Hilton herself. The response was brilliantly played out to both send a message to McCain, and — as another topic — improve Hilton’s public status. It worked, flooding out McCain’s original ad and setting the stage for Obama’s more political response, which delivered a more serious but at the same time up-beat message. 

This was really the start of McCain’s continuous but mild public downpour, in which his previous political gaffes have come back to haunt him, including his Iraq-Pakistan border nightmare as well as his foreign policy mistake in Jordan, pictured, which occurred during a press confrence.Obama, though, has never capitalized on these public weaknesses. Taking a position many politicians in his would have quickly decided against, the senator will only fight once attacked. This way, not only has he kept a very clean slate, he has had time to asses the attacks aimed at him, quickly differ what he can say, and then release a public spot with many more directions and points to make than McCain. This, however, has never been referred to as “weak.” Obama’s team has carefully picked apart attacks (some of this is public) and assessed where they can attack and how they can cover up their softer political spots.

A great example of this was Obama’s second major attack ad towards McCain, named “Fix the Economy“. The ad was placed a few days after the “celebrity” fiasco, and is applauded by myself as well as many political experts for its seemingly perfect timing.

The spot aired during the dubbed “aftermath” of the war-like celebrity dispute, where the public was waiting for more moves from the two campaigns. Obama immediately recognized the situation and sent out what I like to call his “smoke grenade.” Geared towards a topic not mentioned around that time due to the previous Iraq-centered debates, Obama took footage of McCain claiming the American economy was in good shape and threw it against clips of American’s disagreeing with him intently. The ad was politically and factually sound down to the finest details, even including the states the Americans lived in, which were battleground swing-states for Obama and McCain (Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky ect.) that are currently up for grounds in a political perspective. 

I call the ad a “smoke grenade” because it both did tremendous damage and put a cloud of smoke in-between the conservatives and the general public. The points made in the ad sent the McCain party wheeling for a response, and the eerie gap of time made an effective bad aftertaste towards the republicans publicly. What I mean by this is since political attacks were plentiful up to that point for weeks, the world had prepared itself for a McCain attack. But in a sense, it never came. So who can we credit this to? In my opinion, it has really been the work of Obama’s campaign working together, headed by the smart PR decisions of Jim Messina, the Chief of Staff. 

So as McCain keeps pumping out attack ads (here is the newest and the response), Obama will keep bouncing them back in the same way he always does — sifting through the ad and hitting hard on the facts. And that’s why Obama is not only winning in the PR department as well as the television side — he’s dominating.

5 Responses to “Ad Wars: Why Obama’s Winning”


  1. Awesome post! I enjoyed reading your analysis about both Obama’s and McCain’s campaign strategies. I really liked this sentence, “Taking a position many politicians in his would have quickly decided against, the senator will only fight once attacked.” That never occurred to me before, so thank you for enhancing my appreciation for Obama.

    And thanks for stopping by my blog. I find your thoughts especially mature for your age. :-) Keep up the great blogging!

  2. pacer521 Says:

    hey, thanks for the comment. Yeah, that just popped in my head as a strategy that he really has used for his advantage. Although I don’t agree with everything any of these candidates are saying, (I try to be open minded as far as the elections) I still support Obama’s tactics much more than McCain’s.

    pacer521


  3. [...] retaliation has been very slim this election, but it is one that Obama has mastered, as I wrote in another post about political ads. And now that Obama has been given the ball next to the hoop practically [...]


  4. [...] retaliation has been very slim this election, but it is one that Obama has mastered, as I wrote in another post about political ads. And now that Obama has been given the ball next to the hoop practically [...]


  5. [...] and if you want to read the original post (complete with video links and pics) you can read it here. I highly encourage other youths to speak up as well, and if you have any writings you’d like [...]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: