The ad, titled “Firms,” mockingly plays Romney’s rendition of “America the Beautiful” from the campaign trail over scathing headlines and empty factory floors. Waves gently crash ashore as the ad points out that Romney stashed some of his considerable wealth in the Cayman Islands.
The high production value of the new Obama spot led some to wonder: Did the campaign outsource the ad to slick Hollywood ringers? In fact, John Del Cecato at David Axelrod’s firm, AKPD Message and Media, produced the ad. The Obama campaign told TPM on Monday that it used the same ad team it has all along.
A team of five or six people worked on the ad. The team is sometimes tasked with producing an ad in an hour. This one took a few days. An Obama adviser admitted that the ad relied on considerable sound design to create something that looked and sounded different from other political ads on the air. “We set out to make something that would cut through the clutter,” he said.
With less than four months to election day, the political ad market has reached a point of saturation. An effective ad must strike a balance between attention-grabbing visuals and a clear, credible message, the adviser added. “The sweet spot is when you can achieve both of those goals with one ad. We’re well aware of the public’s limited appetite for traditional ads.”
The ad will run in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Jimmy Siegel, a veteran political ad professional who has produced ads for Eliot Spitzer and Hillary Clinton, told TPM on Monday he wishes he made the ad himself. “It paints (Romney) as a hypocrite — that’s the one thing Americans don’t forget,” he said.
Siegel downplayed the ad’s technical bravado. It doesn’t break new ground production-wise, he said, but often the most effective ad messages are the simplest. “I think it’s a very evocative ad. Without bashing you over the head, it uses some of the words, in this case his own singing, to indict him in a simple, powerful way.”
The Obama adviser denied that the campaign, facing an uphill battle against outside spending by conservative groups, is focusing more of its efforts on highly effective TV ads. “I would argue that’s been our approach all along. Some hit the mark more directly than others.” Regardless, in the few days since its release, the ad has already garnered more views on YouTube than Fred Davis’s infamous “Demon Sheep” ad from Carly Fiorina’s 2010 campaign.
Watch “Firms” below:
David Taintor is TPM’s News Editor. He contributes to TPM’s Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com