I live in Colorado, which is a swing state in the upcoming Presidential Election. On Friday, I was watching the Olympics opening ceremony with a friend, and we were amazed at how many pro-Romney ads we saw during the ceremony.
So yesterday (July 31), I decided to count how many pro-Romney and pr0-Obama ads were run during the prime time “Olympic Zone” coverage on NBC.
In the 40 minutes between 6:25 PM and 7:05 PM (Mountain Time), I counted eight pro-Romney ads and two pro-Obama ads. That’s an average of one pro-Romney ad every five minutes. Pro-Romney ads ran back-to-back in two of the six commercial breaks during that time (these weren’t typical commercial breaks – some were much longer than others).
In this timespan, there were five different pro-Romney ads, funded by the Crossroads and Restore Our Future super PACs, the Republican National Committee, and the Romney campaign. The most common ad was “Where Did All the Money Go?” (embedded below) funded by the Romney campaign.
In the same timeframe, there were two different pro-Obama ads, both funded by the Obama campaign. The ad titled “The Choice” was more common throughout the evening.
I was fortunate to be watching these ads with a friend of mine who has a Master’s degree in Communication with a concentration in Media and Culture. Her opinion was that the Obama ads were generally more positive and higher quality than the Romney ads. She felt that the overwhelming frequency of the Romney ads, coupled with their negativity, would likely lead to “over saturation” – most viewers would simply ignore the ads.
Think about it this way; if you were watching TV and saw an ad for the same product every five minutes, sometimes twice in a row, would you be more likely to buy that cereal, or would you just be annoyed?
Apparently, Romney and (un)associated super PACs have chosen a “quantity over quality” swing-state advertising strategy, while the Obama campaign has chosen to run positive, higher quality advertisements but not as many of them.
While it is obvious that Romney and his supporters have a significant advantage when it comes to ad spending, they should be careful about running too many negative ads, especially during the Olympics. In 2008, John McCain followed a similar strategy, running negative ads during the Olympics while Obama ran positive ones.
According to the Washington Post, “McCain’s choice to go negative during a moment of national unity was controversial. Viewers found McCain’s ad far more memorable, but many were turned off by it.”
On a final note; regardless of party, people should always fact-check the political ads they see. There were some truly outlandish statements made in many of the ads, but the claim that really struck me was in the “Olympics” ad funded by Restore Our Future. It claimed, “after September 11th, Romney delivered the Olympics safe and secure.”
Really? Republicans complained bitterly that Obama failed to give credit to the Navy SEALs and intelligence services (which he actually did) when he announced the death of Osama bin Laden, but it’s ok for Romney to take credit for preventing an imaginary terrorist attack at the 2002 Olympics? What about the police, security guards, FBI, and intelligence agencies that were involved in security for the Salt Lake Olympics? Don’t they deserve any credit?
Take a minute to compare the two most common ads:
What do you think?