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Despite Requests, TV Reporters Still Prevalent In Political Attack Ads

Despite requests from TV news organizations to political campaigns, attack ads across the country still prominently feature TV news anchors and reporters. Advertising Age looked at the numbers, and found that journalists have been featured in TV spots that aired thousands and thousands of times.

Clips from CNBC were the most commonly used, followed by CNN and MSNBC. Tom Brokaw, David Gregory, Ali Velshi and John Harwood were among the journalists whose clips were used for political purposes. Earlier this year networks asked the campaigns to stop featuring clips from their programming in ads. It didn’t work.

Ad Age explains:

From a messaging standpoint, TV journalists “deliver” the advertisers’ messages not only more credibly but also more concisely and accessibly, an added benefit for the advertisers in light of the complex economic circumstances being debated this year. Deficit spending, unemployment and stimulus are tough to explain in 30 seconds, so why not “borrow” the people who do it for a living? Having familiar faces and voices do the work is also far more powerful than showing frame after frame of static newspaper headlines.


Using network talent to deliver messages in TV ads offers advertisers a coveted combination. Earned media is generally thought to have limited impact on the decision-making of swing voters because the types of broadcasts they value are unlikely to contain the pointed messages that drive decision-making. On the other hand, media outlets that deliver messages with a point of view are watched mainly by people who already share that view.

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