The votes are in: Negative ads win!

Pity the poor devils who watched and rated the 2012 presidential campaign TV spots for effectiveness.

According to The Washington Post, 85% of Obama’s ads and 91% of Romney’s were negative. To describe them as negative is kind — most were brutal in their mean-spiritedness and blatant in their dishonesty. Worse, they insulted the voters.

One can only hope Ace Metrix provided its TV spot reviewers with counseling and a supply of antidepressants.

The Ace Metrix panel reviewed 550 presidential, issues and advocacy ads in total. Each ad was seen by a unique sample of more than 500 viewers, balanced across self-identified republican, democratic, independent and unregistered voters and weighted for age, gender and income, based upon the U.S. Census.

Romney’s top five most effective ads, as judged by the panel, included four negative ads belittling Obama’s record and one positive ad touting Romney’s plan.

Overall, the effectiveness scores of Obama’s top five ads ranked higher than Romney’s. Two Obama ads were outright negative, one was positive and two compared Romney’s plan (negative) with Obama’s (positive).

The ad judged most effective overall, also negative, was produced by Obama-leaning super PAC PrioritiesUSA. (Watch it and the top-performing Romney and Obama ads below. Or don’t, if you’ve had enough.)

In battleground-state Ohio, around $200 million was spent on over 200,000 ads between April and November. As a result, I chose to avoid watching TV for several weeks leading up to the election.

The real winners in the battleground states were the TV stations and cable networks. For them, the economy can’t get much better.

This entry was posted in advertising, research.

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