Skip to comments.Traffic jam: 2012 presidential campaigns test drive car ads in search for voters (EVEN HUSSEIN!)
Posted on 03/10/2012 6:49:30 PM PST by Libloather
Traffic jam: 2012 presidential campaigns test drive car ads in search for voters
By Geneva Sands - 03/10/12 01:35 PM ET
Mitt Romneys presidential campaign has taken a cue from Detroit in trying to win over voters through the all-American love affair with the car.
Romney has released at least ten campaign videos that feature cars, including three that show the former Massachusetts governor behind the wheel.
Hes not alone, either.
President Obamas campaign showcased classic and modern cars in an ad last month that touted Obamas support of the auto industry, one of the White Houses chief talking points for the presidents reelection.
"Made in America. For generations of Michigan autoworkers its more than a slogan; its a way of life," says a voiceover in the ad, which was timed for the Michigan GOP primary.
The president was also seen at the annual Washington Auto Show earlier this year promoting American-made cars, where he got a personalized tour of new electric and hybrid models from Ford, Dodge and General Motors, according to pool reports.
Cars have always been used by politicians hoping to connect with U.S. voters because of the countrys love for the open road.
But in this years election, they are taking on an out-sized importance.
The images are extremely timely in this election cycle as candidates try to associate themselves with the resurgence of the U.S. auto industry, said Wendy Melillo, assistant professor in the School of Communications at American University and a longtime political advertising reporter.
Each candidate wants to make an association with the successful comeback of Detroit and of the car industry, said Melillo. That is the underlining theme thats prompting the trend you are seeing.
Rising gas prices have provided another car-centered issue for the campaign trail. Republicans are playing up the rising prices to argue Obamas energy policies are failing the country. They want drivers to think of Obamain a negative wayevery time they fill their tank.
Newt Gingrich released a video Wednesday of a campaign stop to a gas station in Alabama, where he highlighted his plans for lower gas prices, mocking Obama's alternative energy initiatives in the process.
The advertising is important for several reasons for Romney, who has a solid lead in the GOP race for delegates and seems likely to be Obamas opponent in the fall.
Romney is from Michigan, but opposed the auto bailout. He also has struggled to counter perceptions that hes out of touch with working-class voters, and ads showing him behind the wheel ahead of Michigans primary last month were meant to humanize Romney and help him personally connect with voters.
I remember going to the Detroit auto show with my dad. That was a big deal, says Romney in one thirty-second spot. Michigan has been my home and this is personal.
Romney ended up narrowly defeating Rick Santorum in Michigan.
Ted Brader, author of Campaigning for Hearts and Minds and an associate professor of political science at the University of Michigan, suggested Romneys ads could help him with voters.
Cars are so central to the American way of life and to the American image, they just provide the ready vehicle for tapping into peoples experiences and their emotions, said Brader.
But the effort also came with a downside. In the Michigan ad, Romney took heat after it emerged that he drove a 2012 Chrysler 300 sedan a vehicle manufactured in Canada.
Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D), host of The War Room on Current TV, said it's hypocritical for Romney to use automobile symbolism given his opposition to the bailout.
I mean theres no getting around it and I think it poses a big problem for him in the general election, she said.
But Republican advertising specialist Brad Todd, who worked on Romneys 2008 campaign but is unaffiliated in this election cycle, said there are reasons for Romney and other candidates to use cars to appeal to voters beyond Washington policy.
He said the most common reason cars are used in ads is to put the voter in a one-on-one conversation with the candidate.
We have conversations with those were close to on the road. America is a car culture. And so its a good place to situate the voter, said Todd.
Drivers in the United States spend around an hour a day in their cars, according to the most recent data available from the National Household Travel Survey.
For a lot of people the car is an extension of who they are and its a reflection of their personality and priorities in their life at a given time, said Todd.
However, he notes that a car alone does not a successful ad make.
Its only as effective as the conversation is authentic, he said.
What's up with cutting the customer off at the $75 mark while at the pump? Need that extra fuel for Moochelle's next nine vacations?
Do a Ford ad...did not take stimuus money...and have a scroll of the Consumer Reports efforts on the Fisker Karma....”see what your money can buy?”. that ought to get a few laughs..if not votes...
We may need a usage versus price chart. Got one of those?
That's appeal to women! Forget the vest , Rick.
Need to photoshop Mitten’s head onto that tank that Dukakis test drove in 1992....don’t know which was the more ridiculous, Mikey or Kerry in the radiation bunny suit.
The $75 thingy is a limit that some credit card companies impose. Many gas station pumps advise that if this happens, just run a second purchase through and complete filling your tank. But when a tankful of gas begins to approach your monthly electric bill, things are getting ridiculous.