Presidential campaign ads are formulaic. In many cases, the viewer sees a montage of established symbols flashed across the screen: American flags flying, wheat fields rustling, Main Streets lined with shoppers, people going to work. Symbols are a powerful way of quickly relating a message to an audience. American flags, for instance, are used to represent freedom, while wheat fields are used to represent prosperity. But which symbol best represents 21st century jobs? The welder. Nothing like sparks flying off a grinder to tell people: this candidate embodies the dynamism of the American economy.
In an effort to track the general messaging behind this year’s presidential ads, Smart Media Group has kept a playlist of all of the television-worthy spots uploaded to YouTube by the presidential candidates, Political Action Committees and issue groups. So far, SMG has tallied 98 different broadcast-quality ads that have been uploaded to YouTube and relate to the 2012 GOP primary election. Of those 98 ads, 22 are negative ads (22 percent), 67 are positive ads (68 percent) and 9 are “contrast” ads, or positive/negative (9 percent).
SMG also has counted eights ads that have featured a table saw with sparks flying. Of these eight ads, five have been positive ads, two have been negative ads and one has been a contrast ad. Watch how each candidate lets the welder tell a story:
Mitt Romney was the first the candidate to feature the welder in his ad, “Believe in America.” It was an attack ad on Obama. Not too many sparks flying, but definitely bright.
2 “America’s CEO”
Friends of Herman Cain produced this positive ad called “America’s CEO.” It features a much more impressive shot of sparks flying.
Newt Gingrich entered Iowa with this positive ad, “Rebuilding the America We Love.” It looks like the whole factory is ablaze!
Mitt Romney released a positive ad called “Freedom and Opportunity.” This shot is a bit more complicated, with the candidate actually walking behind the welder.
6 “Timid vs. Bold”
Newt Gingrich featured this table saw in his contrast ad, “Timid vs. Bold.” This shot is a nice switch up from the traditional close up of the welder.
MoveOn.org aired this Romney attack ad on cable networks in New Hampshire. It’s a nice shot of the man working with the grinder.
The Pro-Perry Make Us Great Again PAC aired “Leadership” in both Iowa and South Carolina. This may be the best shot of a welder and sparks flying.
Did we miss any welders? Which ad is your favorite?
A version of this post was also published on Campaigns and Elections’ blog, Campaign Insider.