Want to know which attack ads work, and which don’t, in the Mitt Romney-President Obama mud-slinging fest? More important, what can we learn from the candidates’ multi-million-dollar flops?
As it turns out – a lot!
I caught a segment on CBS This Morning featuring GOP strategist and communications specialist Frank Luntz, who has analyzed hundreds of ads from each campaign using data from “instant response dialometers.” Viewers watch the ads and gauge their second-to-second response – whether it makes them for the candidate or against him.
The results were telling. What worked: information in the ads presented by journalists, authenticity, a focus on issues, using the candidate’s own words against him by including video clips.
What didn’t work: gimmicks – especially visual trickery, humor (surprise!), and anything too complicated.
Using clips from the news was particularly effective, Luntz said. In one ad, news organizations were the source of information about contradictions between Obama’s words and actions, which swayed even pro-Obama viewers.
“That’s (journalism) got more credibility than anything else because they (viewers) think that you don’t have an ax to grind,” Luntz said.
As a long-time journalist, I’m thrilled the public still sees the news media as a credible source of information. (The way the industry’s been going, I’ve sometimes wondered!)