By: Rebecca Pierce


The upcoming Presidential Election is being held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. We are about a month away from the big day and as Americans, we can feel the pressure as the presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney scramble to put in their last ditch efforts to obtain our votes. Democratic candidate Obama wants us to move Forward with him as president, while the Republican candidate Romney wants us to Believe in America and vote for him to be our next president.

So how do we know who to pick? If we’re not political science junkies, (which many of us are not) we have limited knowledge about what each candidate intends to accomplish for America once they are inaugurated into office. Many of us look to the media for information about the potential candidates.  Maybe we actually sit and watch the nightly news, but more likely, we catch headlines on online news sites and skim an article to get a feel for each candidate. One way I’m sure we’ve all been exposed to Obama and Romney is through their television spots. Short and generally to the point, presidential candidates hope to reach and persuade Americans to vote for them through their television advertisements.

I decided to take a look at recent television advertisements for Obama and Romney from an advertiser’s perspective and list some pros and cons of both of their ads. I wanted to look at how each candidate approached their potential voters and evaluate the messages they were sending through their advertisements. I found that both advertisements were released around the same time and feature the presidential candidates in similar ways.

The first ad for Obama is called, “Table.” The ad features Obama speaking directly to his audience about why Romney is the wrong choice for president. Obama mainly speaks about his plan to help America prosper if he is reelected president.

Pros of Obama’s Ad:

  1. Obama is speaking directly to the camera, making the viewer feel like he is speaking directly to them. The ad is personable.
  2. Obama has the four main points of his plan for America in brief words listed at the bottom of the screen, so if people start zoning out, maybe they will start reading and have take away points.
  3. The advertisement cuts to shots of Obama in different settings showing him engaged with the people that will help him accomplish his plan for America. Showing Obama actually moving around and not just sitting in a chair helps viewers envision him actually accomplishing tasks to better America.

Cons of Obama’s Ad:

  1. The advertisement is a little cheesy. Obama talks about sitting around the dinner table talking to you personally about his plan for America, and then, there is actually a kitchen table visible in the background. Viewers may see this approach as fake.
  2. The brief blurbs about his plan at the bottom of the screen may be informative, but they also may make viewers (especially more informed ones) feel like things are being dumbed down for them.
  3. The ad is two minutes long. Obama will be losing people’s attention thirty seconds in.

The ad for Romney is called, “Too Many Americans.” Romney speaks directly to the audience about unemployment in America, and talks about how he will solve the problem with his policies.

Pros of Romney’s Ad:

  1. Romney also speaks directly to the camera, making the viewer feel comfortable and like he is speaking directly to them.
  2. The commercial is simple. The entire ad is just Romney talking to the viewers, creating fewer distractions for the audience. This approach also may make viewers feel like Romney is not trying to divert their attention from the issues with flashy images.
  3. The commercial is short. Romney only needs to keep people’s attention for a minute.

Cons of Romney’s Ad:

  1. Because Romney’s commercial is only of himself talking, it is easy for viewers to get lost in his words and zone out.
  2. Romney starts the commercial talking about how horrible unemployment currently is, creating a negative tone. This approach could make viewers stop and consider their own financial burdens, disengaging viewers from the commercial.
  3. Romney says his policies will create 12 million jobs, but there is no explanation of how or where to find out more information about his policies for viewers. Viewers may just see the commercial as a politician making a promise he cannot keep.

Both advertisements are effective at getting their points across and are altogether adequate political ads. Obama explains that America has made progress since he has been in office and will continue to do so if he is reelected, and that Romney will not solve the current financial crisis. Romney explains that the current unemployment situation is abysmal, Obama has made the economy worse since being in office, and that Romney has policies that will create 12 million jobs if he is elected president. Because these advertisements are more summations of why to vote for each candidate and less about candidates blatantly attacking their opponent, these advertisements have the real possibility of helping sway middle of the fence voters to vote for either Obama or Romney.


Written by Ad Buzz

The American Advertising Federation Illinois Chapter brings to you Ad Buzz, a blog dedicated to all things advertising related, from our favorite campaigns to trends going on in the industry.

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