Effective political ads use emotion and a mix of powerful images, words and music to deliver the campaign’s message. In some cases, they are designed to introduce a candidate that many voters are getting to know for the first time. Other times, ads are meant to drive home the record and best attributes of a well-known political figure. Here are ten examples of some of the most effective ones:
10. Kennedy for Me
One of the first ads to use the new medium of television, it uses a catchy jingle to highlight the message that Kennedy had both seasoned political experience and a new vision for America.
In the 1988 election, most voters knew George Bush as the quiet, competent vice-president but didn’t feel they had a personal connection to him the way they did with Reagan. Who better to show the softer side of Bush than his wife Barbara.
8. Our Country
Take a standard stump speech from your leader, add some stirring music and patriotic images and the result is an effective campaign ad.
7. Real Change Now
In 2015, the Liberal Party had to overcome a strong NDP to convince Canadians that they were the agent of change that so many were looking for. A massive 5,000 person rally was the right backdrop to demonstrate momentum, Trudeau’s youthful exuberance and a message on strengthening the middle class.
6. The Courage to Change
(Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic Nomination, New York, House of Representatives, 2018)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took on the Democratic Party establishment and a longtime incumbent to win the party’s nomination in a highly multiethnic district which encompasses parts of New York’s boroughs of the Bronx and Queens. A different kind of ad for a different kind of candidate.
5. The Man from Hope
An upbeat biography ad that highlighted Bill Clinton’s humble roots and his experience and vision as Governor that he hoped to bring to the presidency.
(Sanders, Democratic Nomination, 2016)
No voice over, just upbeat images of a diverse group of Americans and Sanders rallies to drive home the building excitement and unifying message of his nomination campaign
(Plame, New Mexico, House of Representatives, 2019)
The newest ad on our list, Valerie Plame’s ad artfully mixes her background as a former-CIA agent who was recklessly unmasked by the Bush administration with some skillful driving as a metaphor for turning the country around.
2. Yes We Can
This is more a music video than an ad with prominent celebrities adding their singing voices to an inspiring Obama speech, but when it went viral in 2008 it had a bigger impact in spreading his message of optimism and hope than the biggest ad campaign.
1. Morning in America
Often cited as the gold standard of political advising, this ad captured the upbeat mood in 1984 that Americans were staring to getting ahead after the economic doldrums of the late 1970s and early 80s.