Ready Or Not

       Each year, millions of fans tune into the Super Bowl for three reasons: the game, the half-time show, and (most importantly) the advertisements. With Super Bowl ads, fans expect the best brands to present positive, entertaining, and memorable content; they want to laugh or be emotionally connected to the brand. What fans do not expect from a Super Bowl ad, however, is a taste of presidential politics. 

      According to  USA Today, Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg’s political ads have been the first to air nationally during a Super Bowl since at least 1989. To get those desirable spots, Business Insider reports that the candidates spent almost $10 million. While The Wall Street Journal found that reactions to both candidates’ ads were more than 60% negative,  USA Today believes that “together, they represent a new frontier for political advertising on television and the realm of Super Bowl commercials”. Indeed, it is reported that a third of online conversation about the Super Bowl ads centered around Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Bloomberg’s ads. 

      From what we at TXADPR observed during the event, FOX  attempted to ensure both political ads were strategically placed. We believe this was done to prevent brands from being associated with either candidate and to lessen fans’ negative feelings about the presence of the ads. Still, The Wall Street Journal states that “some brands expressed misgivings about seeing their own ads adjacent to political ads [and some] 63% of Americans called the Super Bowl an inappropriate platform for political candidates’ ads, according to a poll conducted online recently by Morning Consult for The Wall Street Journal.”

    Either way, these candidates will not back down as they strive to reach as many voters as possible. It is apparent that any medium will do: FiveThirtyEight tracks ad buys by numerous presidential candidates, CNBC reports that more than $825,000 was spent by Mike Bloomberg for Facebook ads, and TXADPR speaks with graduate students who received texts from Bernie Sanders team. Political ads and messaging will be hard to avoid, whether the public is ready or not.  So, we at TXADPR wonder, are you ready? 

Deborah Harkins
Tower Fellow