McCain’s Olympic Ad=Too Ugly

Among political wonks, it made some news that Senators Obama and McCain were going to advertise during the Olympics at all. It’s an expensive ad buy. $6 million for McCain, $5 million for Obama. I thought I’d do a quick break down of the two ads and give my final take. In case if the title didn’t already give it away, McCain’s ad is far too negative, inappropriate for the Olympics. Obama’s ad on the other hand strikes just the right note for Olympic Advertising. 

First, the McCain ad:

Two observations:

1. It’s about Obama. When 15 seconds of your ad is about your opponent, its not about you, it’s about him. It’s been a running theme for McCain. He is increasingly defining himself as the guy against Obama. If he is too win, he needs to give us a positive reason to vote for him. 

2. It’s negative. At what point was it a good idea in Camp McCain to use a negative ad in the middle of one of the most patriotic feel-good events TV can offer? McCain’s brand is all about patriotism (when at it’s best) why not play that up at a time our athletes will be draping themselves in the flag?

Now, Obama’s ad:

Notice that Obama’s ad never mentions his opponent. At first it doesn’t even mention politics. It’s a positive, affirmative message about what Americans are capable of. It strikes just the right note for advertising during the Olympics. There is still alot of Olympic time to go. Time for McCain to pull out this ad, and enter something more positive. He’s ruining his brand taking every second of precious and expensive air time beating up Obama.

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Death to Attack Ads

I know it is our duty to protect free political speech in this country. It is one of our most sacred rights and should never be limited. I don’t really want to take any legal action or move to ban political attack ads, but I hate them, and the tit-for-tat is in full swing and we haven’t even had conventions yet. 

McCain calls Obama the c-word (celebrity), so Obama calls him the b-word (bush). The ads run 12 times on actual TV, then in a constant loop on Youtube, in blogs, and in the back of my skull. 

I s’pose it’s just that I had higher hopes for these two candidates. McCain and Obama promised to carry out high minded campaigns based on issues. But the name calling never dies I suppose.

Obama, McCain, and the Youtube Gap

Lots has already been made of the first YouTube campaign. Never before have candidates had such cheap access to video posting that can become so viral so quickly. McCain’s controversial “Britney Spears” ad ran very lightly in traditional media, but has been a YouTube craze. Obama’s race speech has been viewed over a million times. But taking a look at their Youtube pages, we can see how differently Senators McCain and Obama use the new medium. 

Starting with McCain:

 

Campaign Ads anyone?

Campaign Ads anyone?

Looking at the screen shot above you can see the majority of clips are campaign ads, and the thumbnails have a surprisingly high number of Obama images. It’s clear that McCain’s campaign sees the medium as a place to play and replay his campaign ads. There are three thumbnails up from town hall meetings, or public engagements, but over all very little footage from the campaign trail. It’s also worth noting that McCain’s campaign page claims 227 videos as of this posting. 

Contrast that with Barack Obama’s campaign page and the differences are startling. 

 

Campaign Trail Clips Galore

Campaign Trail Clips Galore

Looking at the screen shot we the vast majority of these clips are rehashes of ads, but rather campaign stops and direct-to-camera message videos. It’s pretty clear the Obama camp sees a very different purpose for YouTube. Not simply a place post ads, it’s a far more in depth page, where you can follow Obama on the campaign trail and get a sense for his rhetoric easily and quickly. The sheer volume of content is staggering 1070 as of this writing. 

So who’s winning the YouTube war? Tough to say, when you have a campaign ad “go viral” as McCain did last week one could say he did. But when medium is a tool for your supporters or those curious about you to watch and learn more about you, it becomes a long term advantage. 

So far…let’s call it a tie.

The Week The Race Turned

There is a growing conclusion among political nerds across the country. This election should be Barack Obama’s to lose. Democrats are enjoying a 10-15 point lead in the polls depending on which you like to read. Yet Senator Obama does not enjoy that kind of distance from senator McCain. The tightness of the presidential race can’t be credited to John McCain’s campaign. It has been less than stellar at setting a positive agenda at getting their candidate elected. McCain himself gives a poor stump speech, looks behind the times on Iraq, and isn’t very trusted on the economy. His energy policies are to drill off shore and well drill off shore. McCain has been the candidate of the “100 Years” gaffe and the famous “I don’t know much about the economy…” gaffe. 

It’s hard to see how McCain is holding so close but I think there are essentially two things at work keeping this race closer than it should be. 

#1. People are afraid to elect Obama. For a number of reasons Obama is a dangerous choice for President in the eyes of many. The reasons range from legitimate to disgusting. On the one hand is a young man with a thin resume, especially on the national and global political stages. Voters have every right to question those things about him, and John McCain would be doing himself a disservice to himself not to raise those doubts. The other reasons are more hateful, suspicious, and upsetting. Obama’s blackness, his “funny sounding name” his “otherness” has allowed the internet to swarm with rumors and nastiness about him that have spread like wildfire. Despite the Obama campaign’s efforts to curb the rumor mill, he is facing a potential support ceiling despite his positions on issues which poll very well. 

#2. The McCain brand is still very strong. There was worry in the primary season that McCain’s liberally prone independence would cause a dip in support among the base. While hard numbers are impossible to come by, McCain has of late stressed his American-ness. His desire to be the American President, America deserves. So despite his bumbling, despite still having not created a coherent narrative to elect himself president he still sits in the hunt because people believe in John McCain. 

All of this sets up the precursor for the ugliness that became this week. I turn to Reuters to summarize…

The McCain campaign has proven despite how early it is in the race, its time to go negative. It’s ugly, it’s wrong and its insidious.