The Best and Worst Campaign Ads of 2012

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, March 5, 2012

The Republican Presidential primary is not even over yet and Americans have already seen their fair share of campaign ads on TV from candidates and their related super PACs.  This election cycle campaign ads have been a mix of traditional testimonial ads and ads mimicking movie trailers, and more bizarre ads, including one featuring a candidate just riding through the desert on a dirt bike . . .

Here’s an early look back at some of the best (and worst) campaign ads of the 2012 Presidential primary race thus far.

The Winners

Newt Gingrich’s “French Connection”:

First aired the day of the Fox News Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, SC, the former House Speaker’s scathing comparison of GOP rival Mitt Romney to past presidential candidates from Massachusetts (as well as Romney’s ability to speak French) was instrumental in his come-from-behind win in the Palmetto State six days later.

Mitt Romney’s “History Lesson”:

NBC may not like it, but the ad, which features Tom Brokaw’s news segment from the night Newt Gingrich was disciplined by the House for ethics violations, is incredibly effective at raising doubt on Gingrich’s ability to lead the country.

Ron Paul’s “Conviction”:

The Texas Representative’s movie trailer-esque campaign ad is unique in that it is both creative in its execution and successful at driving home Paul’s message that America needs major fiscal reform.

Newt Gingrich’s “Daughters”:

It’s often difficult to be able to use family in an ad without it becoming cheesy (see Santorum pop-up video ad below), especially when the candidate’s family values are in question. Yet Gingrich’s daughters aren’t overly effusive of their father, and Newt’s signoff at the end is a nice personal touch, making it a winner.

The Losers

Herman Cain’s “Now is the time for action!:

Cain’s credibility took a major hit when this ad aired. It is infamously known for the puff of smoke then-campaign manager Mark Block blows at the end, News of the sexual harassment allegations broke just days later, further hurting Cain’s campaign.

Rick Perry’s “Values”:

Created as a last-ditch effort to woo over traditional conservatives in Iowa, Perry’s “war on religion” drew such intense criticism from the media and Republicans who support gay marriage that even the candidate’s own pollster denounced the ad – which didn’t exactly help him in the polls.

Rick Santorum’s “Pop-Up”:

Santorum’s nod to the 1990s VH1 show Pop Up Video is an overall fail. He attempts to mash together archived campaign footage with current video of his family.  The  infamous “pop-ups” don’t tell us anything new about the former Senator. The result is pure cheese.

Michele Bachmann’s”America’s Iron Lady”:

Bachmann’s lone TV ad is a let down from her past campaign ads – e.g. the “Taxin’ Tarry!” ads from 2010 – and reeks of the traditional cookie-cutter style that just doesn’t make an impact on voters anymore. Bachman is normally great on camera, and this ad just didn’t her or her campaign justice.

Bonus ad: If you haven’t already, you need to watch the @Jon2012Girls “Smokin’

A spoof of the aforementioned Herman Cain ad, Jon Huntsman’s three adult daughters don faux mustaches and bubbles to “shamelessly promote their dad the way no other candidate’s family ever has.”


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