Obama Attack Ads Least Effective | Adweek
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Election 2012

Obama Attack Ads Fall Flat

Combative spots dominate strategy, but should they?

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President Obama may want to rethink his ad strategy. Of the 22 ads the Obama for America campaign ran over the last 60 days, those attacking his GOP challenger are the least effective, according to an analysis by research firm Ace Metrix.

Four of the five lowest scoring ads overall and among independents were attack ads, while four of the five highest-scoring ads were comparison ads that contrasted Obama's economic approach to Mitt Romney's.

The Obama campaign also ran during this period two response ads. "Always" explained his "You didn't build it" remarks and "Blatantly False" responded to Romney's argument that Obama removed the welfare work requirement." Those, too, got lower scores, while two "presidential" ads solely containing positive messages scored relatively well.

But even though the comparison ads and presidential ads are scoring highest, the campaign seems set on maintaining an attack strategy to erode support for Romney.

"I don't get the sense we'll see less of these attack ads," said Jonathan Symonds, Ace Metrix's evp of marketing.

The ads that fell flat overall and among independents all attacked Romney's taxes and accused him of outsourcing jobs while he was at Bain. The lowest-scoring ad among independents was "Revealed," a spot that calls Romney an "outsourcer in chief," while the second lowest-scoring ad, "Hiding," features Romney's off-key singing while details about his offshore investments run across the screen. The third lowest rated, "Son of Boss," also goes after Romney's taxes.

"There are implications for Obama's likability in running these attack ads," said Symonds. "They aren't helping."

Comparison ads on average scored 17 percent higher among independents than attack ads. The top-scoring ad, "Two Plans," tells voters they have a choice in deciding if the wealthy should pay more in taxes. "The Choice," featuring Obama again stressing voters' ability to choose, came in second, while a third ad, "Worried"—which also resonated with independents—focused on deficit reduction.


Video Gallery: The Lowest-Rated and Highest-Rated Obama Ads