Ad Attack Aimed at New President

Advertisers usually try to cast as wide a net as possible, but since last week’s election, some new ads have cropped up aimed at one person: President-elect Barack Obama.

The ACLU, for instance, ran an ad in The New York Times on Nov. 10 and featured a picture of Obama with the quote: “As president, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions,” which was attributed to Obama on Aug. 1, 2007.

“On day one, with the stroke of a pen, you can restore America’s moral leadership in the world,” the rest of the copy reads. Reps from the ACLU could not be reached for comment.

The ad follows others aimed at the president-elect that range from earnest to silly. A day after the election, for instance, fashion brand Kenneth Cole launched a billboard with the headline, “A precedent we can be proud of,” while the Service Employees International Union ran an online ad stating, “You voted for Obama. You voted for health care. Pledge to keep health care on the map” (next to a map of the U.S.).

But perhaps the most opportunistic advertiser has been Mars’ Pedigree dog food brand, which ran an ad directed at Obama’s pledge that he would buy a dog now that the campaign’s over. The ad, which ran in USA Today last week, shows a cute pup next to an open letter that starts: “We’d love to help you fulfill your first campaign promise,” and then plugs the Web site

Al Ries, chairman of Ries & Ries, said it is unusual for advertisers to piggyback an election like this. “This to me is very surprising,” he said. “I’ve been around for a while and I can’t remember when Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter or John F. Kennedy or Dwight D. Eisenhower have had an avalanche of ads telling them what to do.”

Ries said that Obama was a genuine spectacle and advertisers are trying to share his limelight: “I think this election was the most spectacular election ever in terms of being totally new and different. Here was an unknown black man who built a brand in two years and became president of the United States.”

Another reason might be that the last time a new president was ushered in, this type of goodwill was in short supply. In fact, the most notable post-election ad in 2000 was by Ocean Spray. The ad ran the day after that year’s unsettled contest with the headline, “Now That the Election Is Over, You Can Focus on Some Real News.”