The Super Bowl hosts around 100 million viewers each year, making it the perfect venue for big spenders to run campaign ads in an election year. There were three political ads run during the event: two thirty-second clips by Team Trump and one sixty-second clip from Mike Bloomberg. Both camps spent around $10 million for these individual ad buys. Here is how I thought each stacked up in terms of messaging, timing and effectiveness.
Criminal Justice Reform — Donald Trump
The Trump team’s first ad aired early in the first quarter. With a simple but powerful tone, it tells the story of Alice Johnson, a nonviolent drug offender who was sent to prison for life on cocaine charges. Alice is shown reuniting with her family and thanking President Trump for making criminal justice reform happen and allowing her to be with her loved ones. Outside of my personal disagreements with criminal justice reform, this was an emotionally compelling message. Rating: A-
Urban Gun Violence — Michael Bloomberg
The Bloomberg team followed Trump’s first ad with a piece on gun violence. The clip leads off with a mother, Calandrian Kemp, describing her son’s future football aspirations. She describes how he was a promising star and hoped to go to the NFL, but he was tragically shot and killed. Kemp alluded to a national crisis in gun violence, and after hearing about Bloomberg’s candidacy, she was convinced to support him. Outside of statistical errors and narrative questions (why was he shot in the first place?), the ad is pretty standard. Though the delivery felt a little forced, it was not a terrible ad overall. Rating: B-
Stronger, Safer and More Prosperous — Donald Trump
This was a standard, inspirational Trumpian message focused primarily on economic victories. The ad touted the administration’s low unemployment and high wage growth for many communities and ended with President Trump saying, “the best is yet to come.” The timing of this ad was helpful, coming right after the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the game. It set up a winning middle American message during the peak of the heartland’s moment of victory. Outside of the clip’s timely placement, the ad was fairly standard. Rating: B+