By Nov 5th b/t $4B & $5B (Kantar Media) will have been spent on this midterm election making most expensive midterm election, EVER. In short from 100-125 M midterm voters will have been solicited to the tune of $40 to $50 EACH. (There are 60 global economies [over ¼ of ALL GDPs] that are smaller than $5 B). Of the $4 B to $5 B, $2  B to $3 B will be spent on advertising with 55%-60% ($1½ B to 1¾ B) going to TV ads. (By the way MI ranks 8th for PolAd Spending, AP)


$$ aside, let’s take a peek at what is known as Negative Advertising, AttacK Ads or Political Puke or Poop. (Some have said that NegAds are to politics what Ebola is to public health.) The history of NegAds is storied, slimy and salacious at best. While the best known one is LBJ’s 1964 Daisy ad, it surely, was NOT the 1st NegAd. TV birthed NegAds (John Greer’s Attack Ad Hall of Fame). In 1952, the Dems accused the GOP of “Double Speak” (saying one thing to one group and something else to another group). Eventually, both parties accused the other of “promise breaking.” (A genre of PolAds was born!)


Daisy aired only once. It showed a young innocent girl de-petaling a DAISY, 1 petal at a time as a countdown to a nuclear holocaust was taking place. While Sen Goldwater’s name was never used, his previous statements regarding the use of nukes were well known. His outspoken views made this ad bloom and boom. Our NegAds history lesson ends with arguably the most successful NegAd, EVER, the infamous Willie Horton ad. Mr. Horton a bearded Black man (& a convicted killer) was furloughed for 48 hrs from prison by Michael Dukakis when he was MA’s “Guv”. Mr. Horton proceeded to rape a young white woman during his furlough. His image and that of Dukakis were married in the Prez campaign (Geo H Bush) of 1988 (and forevermore). There is little question that crime was used to play the “race card”, here.


Let’s promenade to the DATA regarding one of America’s foremost growth industries, the Negative Ad! According to the Wesleyan Media Project, since the 2010 midterm election, advertising for Govs, the US House and Senate races have increasingly become more negative. In 2010 slightly over 50% of all PolAds were negative. By 2012 it was approaching 55% and by 2014 it will be from 60% to 65%. With the aggressive & progressive nature of NegPolAds duly noted, their frequency becomes even greater during the last few wks b-4 the election. NegAds then, hold sway ¾± of the time. Furthermore, the emotional tones of these ads are generally anger 64% with fear or sadness contributing 34% of the time. Given the proliferation of NegAds, the Hartford Courant noted that 80%+ of the ads for CN’s Gov Race (2014) have been negative, 80%! WOW!! (Of the $1½ B to $1  B spent on PolAd in 2014 from $900 M to $1.13 B will be NegAds!)




There is wide spread agreement that NegAds are effective (perhaps very effective). As in any war (whatever the weapon), 1st strikes are very, very impactful. They immediately put the opponent on the defensive and into a deficit. Usually its Mortar Attack after Mortar Attack after Mortar Attack. NegAds shrewdly & quickly change the game from platforms and constructive political debates to mudslinging and reputational destruction. Not only do NegAds change the debate but they also destroy the politician(s). They leave the electorate disgusted, despondent and unfortunately detached. They also are serious disincentives to voting and a disenfranchisement of democracy. If we wonder why politicians are under such heavy fire all the time; well, it is b/c most of them have NEVER learned to be people, ONLY politicians. Can you imagine if products or services played in the marketplace of NegAds? The result would NOT only be the destruction of each other and their treasured brands but of their industries as well. Hence, we don’t see NegAds in the product/service marketplaces!! END OF STORY!



About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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