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Campaign Spots Celebrate Special Occasions

May 23, 2012

'Tis the season for politicking.

As the general election campaign kicks into high gear, new television commercials are coming fast and furious from the presidential candidates and their allied outside organizations. This avalanche of ads covers such a wide variety of subjects -- everything from gas prices to health care to auto bailouts -- that it can be difficult to detect any consistent, concrete strategy behind their release. Yet in recent weeks, a specific (albeit subtle) trend has emerged: Political commercials timed to coincide with widely-observed occasions and holidays. For example:

  • On May 9 -- as the male masses bought their Mother's Day bouquets -- the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future released an ad, "Mother's Day," that portrays Ann Romney (a mother of five) as the victim of personal attacks by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen and HBO host Bill Maher. The spot effectively ties their negative remarks to the president's reelection campaign, with the ad concluding, "Happy Mother's Day, from Barack Obama's team."
  • On May 18 -- in the midst of college graduation season -- Obama released an ad, "Higher Education," that emphasizes the importance of federal loans in helping college students complete their education. The ad reminds students and parents that Obama is on their side, saying he "doubled funding for college grants, capped federal student loan payments [and] passed the largest college tax credit ever."
  • On May 22 -- amid Obama's commencement address schedule -- the conservative group Crossroads GPS released a 60-second ad, "Basketball," that shows a fictional mother worring about her two post-college children, both of whom have moved back home because they "can't find jobs to get their careers started." Like Obama's "Higher Education" spot, this ad is aimed at both students and parents -- and its timing is hardly coincidental.
  • On May 23 -- days before Memorial Day weekend -- Obama released an ad, "Sacred Trust," in which the president praises the "incredible" sacrifices made by military members and their families. Obama touts the work he's done for returning veterans, and implores Americans to help ease their transition back home. The president concludes, "It's not enough just to make a speech about how much we value veterans; it's not enough just to remember them on Memorial Day."
  • We haven't seen the last of these event-observing political ads; on the contrary, voters can look forward to a a summer filled with politicians' campaign commercials celebrating Father's Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. Here's to hoping they get it out of their system before Halloween.

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