The Most Compelling Political Ads: Will They Translate to Votes?


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With all of the free publicity Donald Trump has amassed, it matters little how how much his rivals pour into paid political advertisements.

Trump, widely favored to win the Republican nomination, only released his first television ad Jan. 4. Before that, he had spent less than $1 million in radio ads. His former Republican opponent, Jeb Bush, spent millions on advertising in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina—yet the finishing results prove lackluster, to say the least.

For the most part, advertisements have not seemed effective at translating into votes—but the messages they convey remain telling of a candidate’s values and overall platform.

“These Hands” – Ben Carson

This ad depicts Americans from all walks of life, without any voice over. Instead, actors show their hands with messages written on the screen, such as “lived through the depression,” “help hurting people,” and “working toward citizenship.” Toward the end, Republican candidate Ben Carson shows his own palms. Watch to see his message.

“Brave” – Hillary Clinton

This ad features Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton hugging a hispanic child in Nevada, worried that her parents might be deported. The ad highlights Clinton’s compassionate side, and reminds the audience that she is a real liberal who will champion immigration reform.

“Us” – John Kasich

This is the best biographical ad on the Republican side, featuring Republican candidate John Kasich’s values and concern for others, while attacking his opponents for focusing only on themselves. The ad also offers insight into Kasich’s work as Governor of Ohio, with several constituents telling his story.

“Playing Trump” – Ted Cruz

This attack ad from Republican candidate Ted Cruz has to rank as the most hilarious yet stinging segments out there. The spot features young children playing with Donald Trump dolls, while reciting some of the controversial candidate’s talking points.

“Real Change” – Bernie Sanders

This is the best biographical ad on the Democratic side, featuring Bernie Sanders’ story as a family man and a child of immigrants. Sanders also highlights how his campaign is funded by small donations from numerous supporters. This also plays to the widely accepted belief that Sanders is a single-issue candidate, and it fails to stop the momentum of Clinton as she continues to hand him sound defeats.