I watched the half-hour ad that the Obama campaign bought on almost every major network and cable channel last night. I was impressed by a couple of things. First, this was a theatre-worthy film in terms of quality and production, starting right off with the amber waves of grain and the swelling Field of Dreams-like score. Second, the message that Mr. Obama delivered was comforting and assuring; he came across as fully aware of the problems the country faces and that as president he would work with us to solve them. He did not sound smug, arrogant, or presumptuous, but he didn’t set off any alarm bells, either. He sounded calm and confident. None of that is surprising; after all, it was a commercial. He and his producers weren’t going to leave anything to chance.
One thing that was noticeable by its absence: any mention of his opponents. Mr. Obama never mentioned the name of John McCain, and he only obliquely referred to the Bush administration as the “last eight years.” That’s one of the hallmarks of a good ad campaign; act as if you are the only product of your kind on the market. Ad writers know that you’re on shaky ground if you have to compare your product to Brand X. Don’t give the consumer the chance to even subliminally be aware of the competition.
If the purpose of this massive expenditure was to reaffirm Mr. Obama’s views on how to move forward in the next four years, he accomplished that very well. And I also think that he’s aware of the fact that running the country won’t be as easy as campaigning for the job…or making an infomercial.