Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be as strong as the bear? If there is a bear.”
To the 1980s audience, it was a clear presentation of the Soviet threat in parable form.
At the time, “Morning in America” was regarded as the more powerful of the two commercials. (It also received more airtime than “The Bear.”) Certainly the language—and the crucial “morning” metaphor—framed the reality of the time in ways that appealed to Reagan partisans and persuaded independents. Discussions of the spot come up during every electoral cycle.
Looking at the current head-to-head spots, no viewer can feel good after this miserable use of thirty seconds, and no viewer can feel better about either candidate.
Graves: There is a deep and deeply confusing body of research on negative ads and voter turnout. There have been findings that negative ads: a) have no impact; b) decrease voter turnout; c) increase voter turnout; d) both increase and decrease turnout depending on the party and the timing. One recent study looking back more than a decade says negative ads work better to mobilize Republican voters than Democrats. Another claims to find that Independents stop voting when both major parties go negative.
But beyond each individual election, the long-term trend is clearly negative. And that is taking its toll.
Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado has claimed he will only go positive this time around. He likens the damage of negative advertising to mutually assured product destruction. If Coca-Cola and Pepsi slammed each other’s products no one would drink either, he says: “What we’re doing is we’re depressing the product category of democracy. And especially young people just tune out.”
First Appeared on Harvard Business Review