Trump and Bloomberg make political ad history at the Super Bowl

Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg have spent around $11 million each buying ad space during the Super Bowl.

Candidates buying air time during The Big Game is unprecedented and the ads that have been released in advance of the game are superb pieces of political communication.

The Super Bowl is the live TV moment of the year in the USA with around 98 million people expected to watch it.

The advertising around the event has become almost as big a part of the show as the game itself.  

The biggest brands use the opportunity of having the undivided attention of the world’s largest economy to run ads which try and win hearts and minds in surprising, humorous and emotive ways.  

Amongst those trying to connect with the American people are two extremely wealthy politicians, both of whom are campaigning to win the 2020 US Presidential election: Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg.

They are the first political candidates to run ads during the Super Bowl since records began (in 1989).

The scale of the event means that a single 30 second TV spot costs $5.6 million; the high cost has been the historic barrier to candidates using the opportunity to advertise, but for these two candidates money is rarely an issue.

Donald Trump is running two 30 second ads. The campaign has released the first in advance (the second will be premiered during the game) and it’s very persuasive indeed.

It’s a textbook piece of incumbent messaging: tell them what you told them you were gonna do, tell them that you did it and then tell them that there’s still more you’re gonna do.

Interspersed between claims about Trump’s achievements in office – which are sourced from third party news outlets and cover all the most salient issues – is footage of the military, roaring crowds, people working blue collar jobs and plenty of US flags.  In short: the film pushes all the emotional buttons of middle America.

Mike Bloomberg is running a 60 second ad which uses the story of a young football player’s death to promote the candidate’s record on gun control.

Using a story that is pertinent to the context within which the ad is running is smart; the increased relevance will make it more likely to connect with viewers.  

And using an issue which will resonate with Democrat primary voters which also contrasts strongly with Trump’s position on the issue is clever too.

Bloomberg running a Super Bowl spot says everything you need to know about his primary election strategy: ignore the early states and spend big money in “Super Tuesday” states to speak to mainstream democrat voters in a relatively political-clutter-free media environment.

The Super Bowl ad is just a small portion of Bloomberg’s massive bet that none of his Democrat opponents will build the necessary momentum – or war chest – from the first 4 ballots to be able to compete with him when around a third of the total delegates are up for grabs on Tuesday 3rd March.

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