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Obama's 'change' in ads

From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
How has Barack Obama changed as a presidential candidate? To get an idea, we can look at the types of television ads he ran in the beginning of his primary campaign, and the first general-election one he launches today.

In his first primary ad, "Choices," Obama opened the ad with excerpts from his 2004 Democratic National Convention to give him instant credibility. It focused on his time as a community organizer, highlighting his community service and value in social change. It featured Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe describing him as "brilliant," and the ad shows Obama working with a diverse community in Chicago.

As he unveils himself to general-election audiences in the new ad, "Country I Love," Obama is more subdued. The first still image is of a young Obama in the arms of his white mother (also ran in his ad "Mother"). The script speaks not of his post-college years, but of his Kansas roots and the values he learned along the way. Instead of showing Obama in urban environment, he is surrounded in this ad by working-class people, military men and even an elderly woman.


The contrast shows the different type of voters Obama is pursuing then (in a Democratic primary) and now (a general election). In a primary contest, Obama needed to inspire Democratic passions (and prove to at least a minimum threshold of experience). Now, validated as the Democratic nominee and having won over the base, he needs to relate more to those independent swing voters, largely made up of working-class moderates. Obama's new ad…

… is more akin to the types of spots he ran in Pennsylvania and other more conservative swing states.

And it's certainly not like "Join," his Super Bowl ad, which he used to target young voters with rousing excerpts of his speeches and shots of young people gathering and marching to hear him speak. Those tried to show Obama was the leader of a new type of political movement.