The Washington Post

Campaigns' final messages

Two ads stand out today in the miasma of media soaking the target states.

Both ads show the range of options available to media consultants in 2012 to get their message out. The Obama-Powell ad is a traditional endorsement, but with a twist: My guess is that Colin Powell told the campaign to make the ad from existing footage, so what you see is essentially an edited version of his appearance on a news show when he offered his endorsement.

 Talk about amplifying the news! “CBS This Morning” has never had ratings like these, as the ad will play heavily in target states across the country.  

If the Obama ad is an effective, blunt instrument, then the Romney ad is a fine scalpel, micro-targeted to the areas around Richmond in the key battleground state of Virginia.

It focuses on the closing of a beloved local barbecue chain and links its failure to Obama.  It shows how the Web can be used to deliver long-form, emotional content to just one small slice of voters.  This tool has been used by both sides and will only increase in future elections, perhaps replacing traditional advertising.

Both ads are good distillations of their campaigns’ final messages. Obama’s is that his leadership has steered the country through the worst of times and that it is now poised to move forward.  Romney’s is the mirror image: The country's decline is accelerating under Obama and we can't afford four more years. The jury is hearing starkly different closing statements delivered through more channels than ever before.


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