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Mary Pomerantz

The Importance of TV commercials in the 2016 Presidential Election

Mary Pomerantz

Ms. Pomerantz has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Mary Pomerantz Advertising for the past twenty five years. She was formerly the Chief Executive Officer of Pomerantz Staffing, which grew to be one of the largest privately-owned staffing companies in the US under her leadership.

illustrated graphic of the 2016 Presidential election with a photo of stacks of money in the center of the zero in 2016


illustrated graphic showing a giant stack of wrapped hundred dollar bills next to the amount $4.4 billion that will be spent on ads during the 2016 presidential racePolitical advertisements are a time-honored tradition during the presidential elections. With the 2016 presidential race coming to a close the number of TV commercials from the candidates will likely keep increasing until election day. TV commercials can play a critical role and be a deciding factor in who will be the next president of the United States. During the 2012 election, the amount spent on television advertisements was approximately $3.8 billion. For 2016, the projected amount for ads for the big race is over $4.4 billion.[1] Advertisements are a necessity for the candidates for a wide range of reasons. Not only do they convey the individuals running for the presidency, but they also illustrate their specific messages and stances on a variety of hot-button issues.



illustrated graphic showing a tv with a picture of holding vote signs and text reading eighty seven percent of people see tv commercialsTelevision commercials are extremely effective and efficient because they reach a large audience. These commercials’ expansive grasps reach over 87 percent of individuals aged 18 and over. [1] Commercials are even more important for candidates who may be less well-known. One study conducted by John Sides, political scientist at George Washington University, explains that in the House of Representatives races, challengers benefit more from political ads than incumbents. This is due to the fact that the advertisements provide a large increase in recognition and generate awareness for the lesser known challengers.

Hundreds of hours and millions of dollars are poured into political advertising campaigns. Sides also conducted a study on the advertising campaigns of the 2012 election alongside Lynn Vavreck, a political scientist at UCLA. They discovered that back-loading ads, as opposed to front-loading ads was the most effective approach. Front-loading is when a candidate runs advertisements early in the campaign. Back-loading is when they run ads closer to the election date.[3] For decades, political advertisements have had a resonating effect on the public’s view of a candidate. These ads have also played an integral role with determining which individual will become the next president. Some notable presidential campaigns include:


illustrated graphic showing a tv with drawing of a hand holding up one finger to symbolize #1 and text saying the first tv campaign ad was in 1952The first televised campaign ads aired in 1952. Dwight D. Eisenhower was looking to implement a strategy that would catapult him ahead of his opponent Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower’s team created a series of ads entitled “Eisenhower Answers America.” Costing approximately $1.5 million, the advertisements had a profound effect on the citizens of the United States. These simple and quaint ads propelled Eisenhower into the lead, beating his opponent by 83 percent of the electoral vote.[4]


Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy squared off with political advertisements in 1960. Nixon began a smear campaign against Kennedy calling him “inexperienced.” Kennedy retaliated by producing a series of advertisements with a catchy jingle and slogan. Kennedy portrayed himself as “old enough to know and young enough to do,” which aided him in winning the election.[5]


In 1964, in the midst of the Cold War, President Lyndon B. Johnson was running to be re-elected against opponent Barry Goldwater. President Johnson put out one of the most infamous and memorable commercials in presidential campaign history. Although it ran only one time, it resonated with Americans by painting Goldwater as an extremist that could bring the United States to the brink of a nuclear war.[6] This aided Johnson with winning over Goldwater, receiving 90 percent of the electoral vote.


In 1972, President Richard Nixon was running for re-election against George McGovern and created an ad playing off the emotions and tensions of the ongoing war in Vietnam. Similar to President Johnson, President Nixon aired a commercial depicting that if McGovern won, the safety of the citizens of the United States would be in jeopardy.[7]


culture-in-AmericaRonald Reagan was running against Walter Mondale in 1984. Reagan’s team created a campaign entitled “Morning In America.” This shone a spotlight on how Reagan had restored America’s economy and had lifted spirits during his term in office, which had been dampened by his predecessor President Jimmy Carter. This successful set of ads led President Reagan to win the election with 98 percent of the electoral vote.[8]


In 1988, George H. W. Bush ran against opponent Michael Dukakis. As a governor in Massachusetts, Dukakis supported a weekend furlough program in which convicted criminals were permitted to be released into society for a specific amount of time. This was in an attempt to re-establish positive family and community ties. Bush zoned in on a particular case of Willie Horton, who was a Massachusetts state prison inmate who raped a woman during a weekend furlough. Bush’s ad poked holes in the ability of Dukakis to protect the country.[9]


In 1992, Bill Clinton was vying against president George H. W. Bush who was running for re-election. Some news outlets have dubbed Clinton’s ad as “one of the most compelling biographical advertisements ever made.” The ad conveyed Clinton’s strong work ethic and vision for the future. Clinton defeated incumbent Bush with 69 percent of the electoral vote.[10]


In 2008, Barack Obama was running against John McCain. Obama’s campaign team produced a memorable advertising campaign using influential celebrities such as musician Will. I. Am. and Bob Dylan’s Son, Jesse Dylan. The advertisement was comprised of over 30 celebrities singing the words to his New Hampshire primary concession speech. The video went viral quickly and led to an increase of support for Obama who won the election over his challenger John McCain with 68 percent of the electoral vote.[11]

Tv commercials have played, and will continue to play, a large role in the success or failure of a campaign

Political advertisements clearly have played, and will continue to play, a large role in the failure or success of a campaign and can ultimately determine who will win the next presidency. For over two decades, Mary Pomerantz Advertising has uniquely developed advertising campaigns for clients across the United States. If your business wants a fresh perspective and an innovative approach to your next campaign, allow our organization to help. From ad placement to campaign generation, our team can execute any and all aspects of marketing and advertising. For more information, please call 732-214-9600.


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