Political ads message the holidays

Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July -- yes, those holidays are now becoming fodder for election ads.

Kai Ryssdal: The Memorial Day weekend is a time for many things -- parades, cook outs, movie openings, the beach if it's warm enough. Also, the latest in a new trend of holiday-themed campaign ads.

Marketplace's Nancy Marshall Genzer explains.


Nancy Marshall Genzer: Presidential campaigns used to officially kick off around September with a few Labor Day ads. But those days ended with the 2004 presidential election -- when commercials started in March. Now, every holiday is campaign material. Even Mother's Day.

Mitt Romney ad: Ann Romney raised five boys...

That ad for Gov. Romney started airing on May 9. And President Obama just released this commercial for Memorial Day.

Barack Obama ad: The sacrifices that our troops have made have been incredible...

Ken Goldstein tracks political ads as president of Kantar Media CMAG. He says both campaigns targeted certain voters with their holiday ads. Romney was appealing to women. President Obama reached out to white men.

Ken Goldstein: White working-class men is a particular segment of the population that has a high degree of respect for the military. You have Memorial Day, so you peg a creative to that.

But is this an effective strategy? Erika Franklin Fowler says yes. She heads Wesleyan University's Media Project. And she says holiday ads can even reach precious swing voters.

Erika Franklin Fowler: They're not looking for mass persuasion here.

She says the holiday parade of persuasion will continue. Just wait for Fourth of July fireworks. And then there's Halloween.

Alex Vogel is a Republican strategist. He loves making Halloween ads.

Alex Vogel: The one that is most memorable did involve a candidate superimposed with a witch costume.

Voters have a lot to look forward to.

In Washington, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.

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