Playlist Evan Tracey

Healthcare Reform (Two Extremes)


Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate
"Health care Reform (Two Extremes)," Obama, 2008

MALE NARRATOR: On health care reform,

[TEXT: Health Care Reform]

MALE NARRATOR: Two extremes.

MALE NARRATOR: On one end,

MALE NARRATOR [and TEXT]: Government-run health care, higher taxes.

MALE NARRATOR: On the other,

MALE NARRATOR [and TEXT]: Insurance companies without rules, denying coverage.

MALE NARRATOR: Barack Obama says both extremes are wrong.


MALE NARRATOR: His plan: Keep your employer-paid coverage.

[TEXT: Keep employer-paid coverage]

MALE NARRATOR [and TEXT]: Keep your own doctor. Take on insurance companies to bring down costs.
Cover pre-existing conditions and preventive care.

[TEXT: Cover preventive care]

MALE NARRATOR: Common sense for the change we need.

[TEXT: It's common sense for the change we need]

[TEXT: Read Obama's Plan:]


"Healthcare Reform (Two Extremes)," Obama for America, 2008

Maker: Obama Media Team

Original air date: 09/29/08

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012. (accessed April 20, 2024).


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The Geico Message Strategy

Besides holding the advantage on spending, the Obama campaign also had a superior message strategy. When a campaign runs so many ads in such a condensed time period, it tends to get diminished returns. Without variety, voters are more likely to tune out a message, making ads less effective. The Obama campaign knew that simply airing more ads than McCain was not going to be enough; they needed to use their spending advantage to talk to voters on a number of different issues and themes.

The auto insurance company Geico features cavemen, geckos, rock stars, has-been celebrities, talking syrup bottles, and more in its advertisements, but the ads always tie back to one central message: “We can save you money on your car insurance.” The Obama message strategy was similarly multidimensional. In the general election, the campaign aired over 120 different ads in less than 130 days. The ads featured a variety of messages, themes, looks, styles, and even languages. But, just like Geico ads, they all ended with a clear message: Change.

The diversity of the Obama message was critical to his victory because the variety of messages offered something for everyone.

Obama's increased spending allowed the campaign to have a greater amount of negative ads than McCain in the battleground states. Yet the majority of Obama's ads were positive, allowing him to be perceived as the more upbeat of the two candidates.

About Evan Tracey Evan L. Tracey is the founder and president of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company. CMAG is the leading custom media-research company for politics and public affairs advertising expenditure data. Mr. Tracey is often quoted by the media on issues and trends in political and issue advertising.
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Healthcare Reform (Two Extremes) Savagery Punished Convention Night Dos Caras
This ad was one of Obama's most-aired commercials of the campaign. "Healthcare Reform" helped Obama do what few Democrats have been able to do: win on taxes and health care. With this ad, Obama made the smart move of linking McCain’s health care plan to higher taxes.
Although this ad did not air widely, it did have a significant presence on cable and the internet. I believe that "Brutal" helped turn female voters away from the McCain/Palin ticket. The McCain campaign did not do enough to respond to this message.
This ad featured one of the more potent messages that conservatives could have used in 2008. The ad, which directly quotes Obama on abortion, takes a profoundly pro-life and unsympathetic view of abortion. Had this spot had more spending behind it, and if it had aired in states like Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio, I believe it would have had an impact on evangelical as well as elderly voters.
The McCain campaign did a great job of using counterfeit TV ads as video news releases. Throughout the campaign, they would release ads that where promoted as airing in selected states. The news media would use these ads as a counterweight in their coverage of Obama events.

This ad, which did air once during the Obama convention, was McCain simply being McCain. Who knew that the next day he’d consume the Obama convention bounce with his surprise pick of Governor Palin?
This ad was memorable because it illustrated how uninformed the American voter really is. To associate McCain and Rush Limbaugh on the issue of immigration is like saying pigs and people agree on breakfast. The ad, however, was basically unchallenged by the media and certainly was effective in helping Obama with Hispanic voters.