Just a day after the NFL season culminates in the Super Bowl, an equally gripping and brutal American sport begins: the presidential primaries. Ahead of the early contests, most of the Democratic candidates have been spilling inordinate amounts on ads targeted to these key states, appealing to voters with emotional pulls, rational arguments, and attacks on rivals.
With total 2020 ad spending for both parties expected to reach $6 billion, many candidates surely believe in the power of ads –not least of all former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose ad-centric strategy has propelled him to a place in the top four in many Super Tuesday states. For him, the payoff is worth the millions of his own dollars he’s dropped. According to Advertising Analytics, he’s spent $11 million on 60 seconds of Super Bowl ad time. President Trump has matched that figure with his two 30-second spots.
So: what makes a good political ad, and which candidates are making the best cases for themselves for 2020?
Political scientists argue it’s not that simple: that ads should be scientifically tested for efficiency, and that those methods could inform and save money for campaigns. For media agencies, though, crafting ads is a lucrative art that’s subjective and hardly measurable.
One point on which all the experts agree: that voters may not even be the true target of the ads. There’s another crucial demographic they’re pursuing–and the national stage of the Super Bowl is one of the best ways to reach them.