Attack Ad Breakdown: “Two Plans”

I haven’t done one of these in awhile so I thought we were due and the Obama campaign has put out a new ad about taxes.

To me, the most interesting aspect of an attack ad is the choices made on background images. As we learn that Mitt Romney intends to cut taxes for the wealthy by 25%, we are treated to an overhead shot of a beach mansion — presumably where Conrad and Victoria Grayson live. When we hear about Romney’s plan to give tax breaks to oil companies, we are treated to an ominous Exxon logo. I’m assuming some focus group testing was involved to verify that Exxon was, in fact, the least popular oil company around, which is an accomplishment coming a mere two years after BP dumped tons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, er, Gulf of America.

A nondescript assembly line (it looks like a cell phone plant, but I’m not positive) accompanies the fact that Romney wants to give tax benefits to outsourcing companies. Note that this is not a sweatshop — a sweatshop would make the viewer wonder why America would want those jobs back — this is a comfortable, safe middle class manufacturing gig.

I’m not sure why Romney’s tax hike for working families is explained over an image of Romney standing in front of reporters. I would have thought a sympathetic image of regular folks would have been more apt.

But when the ad turns to describing the Obama tax plan, we never see the “wealthy” when we learn that Obama plans to ask more from the wealthy to fund middle class tax cuts. Affable interactions with regular people in factories and diners. It’s interesting that the defense of Obama begins by asking the wealthy to pay more. Maybe the fear of “class warfare” charges have subsided, because I would have expected Obama to phrase the ad as, “cutting taxes BY asking the wealthy to pay more” instead of “ask the wealthy to pay more TO cut taxes for everyone else.” I’m looking forward to asking Obama campaign officials about this choice once this campaign is over because I would have thought the fear of class warfare accusations would be more pressing.

In the end the catchphrase is, “Two Plans, Your Choice.” The Obama campaign in masterful at creating memorable catchphrases to keep ads fixed in the minds of viewers.

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