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Olympic Ad Wars

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Obama received considerable attention on July 23 when his $5 million Olympic ad buy was first reported. This was the first national network TV buy for a presidential candidate since Bob Dole bought ads during soap operas and the World Series in 1996. Not to be outdone, two weeks later McCain decided to burn through his remaining pre-public financing cash with a $6 million Olympic ad buy of his own.

I immediately began to wonder whether the candidates would make new ads especially for the Olympics or simply slot existing ads into their gigantic buys?

Didn't take long to get an answer when one of McCain's notorious negative ads popped up on the screen early on in the broadcast of the opening ceremonies. It was his "Family" ad, one that the Sierra Club denounced as soon as it was unveiled -- calling it "shameful" and "deliberately mislead[ing]" when it comes to McCain's record on renewable energy:

Obama, on the other hand, has been filling his Olympic ad slots with a brand new ad, "Hands." This ad is entirely positive and promotes his energy agenda that will create 5,000,000 new jobs here in the U.S. It does a superb job of bringing the concept of "green jobs" (little understood by voters at large) to life and taps into a positive, America can do anything spirit:

Interestingly, both ads feature the same stock footage of wind turbines.

Call me crazy here, but a hard negative ad seems ill-suited to the positive, unifying spirit of the Olympics. I'd argue that Obama's ad is likely to comport well with the mood of Americans swollen with pride (and likely grateful for a small respite from wall-to-wall political coverage during the Olympics), while McCain's ad stands out from both Obama's ad and the rest of the traditional Olympic advertising with its harsh and immediately negative tone.

And speaking of traditional ads, GE has been running tons of specially-made for the Olympics energy-themed ads touting its so-called "ecomagination," including this one: