Deconstructing the message of political commercials has proven to be an interesting task this week. During the recent presidential campaign an ad entitled “Sarah” captured my attention. The timing, delivery and location of the commercial piqued my interest and for the purpose of this week’s assignment, warrant a closer look.
The source of the commercial is the Mitt Romney election committee. The message intends to educate and sway voters to vote for Romney. The commercial also solidifies loyal voters and their decision to vote for Romney. The intended audience of this commercial is Obama voters, women, on the fence voters and finally his own supporters.
The text of the commercial is very clear:
- · Soccer mom finds correct information regarding Mitt Romney
- · Obama has been misquoting Romney
- · Check the facts before you believe what you hear
- · Romney supports abortion
- · A woman used to believe in Obama
- · Her family can’t afford another four years of Obama
- · Obama created debt
- · Romney is the clear choice
The subtexts include:
- · I’m a regular mom just like you
- · I have kids just like you
- · I was thinking about voting for Romney until I heard his stance on abortion
- · I searched online and found the true facts
- · Romney believes in abortion just like Obama
- · Who cares about abortion, let’s focus on debt
- · I’ve suffered financially under Obama
- · I used to believe in Obama
- · I can’t afford Obama
- · I like Romney
When this commercial begins, an immediate close up of a woman appears and then you’re invited into her home. The ad immediately feels warm and engaging. Voters are welcomed inside Sarah’s home, meet Sarah’s family and feel involved in the everyday life of Sarah.
This particular commercial uses persuasion in an unassuming way. While incorporating political rhetoric, it does so without being obvious. Using the “plain folks” testimonial, Sarah projects an image of a regular person. She is relate-able to intelligent, everyday females and soccer moms alike. While projecting an authentic image, Sarah gives Mitt Romney authenticity with the everyday voter. The commercial also provides a simple solution for the consumer. Using rhetoric that breaks down political speak, Sarah explains that after researching the facts, she realized Romney isn’t against abortion. Even though she voted for Obama in the last election she’s since changed her mind. While she is concerned about abortion, she is more concerned about the debt Obama has created. Her final statement appeals to a working class family who can’t afford four more years of Obama.
What I found most interesting is that Romney’s view on abortion was incorrectly communicated. Mitt Romney does not believe in abortion, however the commercial focused on the “exceptions” to his belief. Next, when the discussion lead to the debt created by Obama, there were no facts presented. Instead, the commercial played on emotion while Sarah explained that she could no longer “afford” Obama.
The approach of the commercial was exactly what Romney needed to solidify his win during the first debate. Immediately, Romney became accessible to liberal voters. Romney capitalized on voters, or more specifically women, who were on the fence. This ad made Romney appear liberal, while also playing the part of a conservative.
Overall, the message of the commercial was easy to see, but hard to turn off regardless of party affiliation. Its appeal was unassuming in such a way, that even the unbeliever was disarmed.