Biden brings campaign ad to Cy-Hawk game broadcast


Jake Webster/Iowa State Daily

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to a member of the Des Moines Register staff before taking the stage Aug. 8 at the Iowa State Fair.

Jake Webster

Iowans have seen political commercials during big football games in past years, and Saturday’s Cy-Hawk game featured more of the same.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign bought a 60-second ad spot during the football game featuring his “Bones” commercial, the first television ad the campaign ran in the state. The ad opens with a narrator saying “[w]e know in our bones this election is different — the stakes are higher, the threat more serious,” as a video clip of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia plays.

A 60-second ad buy is a serious campaign investment — most political ads run on television for 30 seconds.

Biden for President Iowa State director Jake Braun said like ESPN’s College GameDay, “all eyes” will be on Iowa’s caucuses — with students in the state holding the “keys” to the country’s future.

“That’s why we’re encouraging everyone to get involved, get engaged in Student for Biden groups we’ve launched [in] Iowa, and help change the course of this country for the better,” Braun said.

The Biden campaign’s ad buy came in the wake of a debate performance Thursday that caused little movement in Biden’s already high favorable ratings, according to an Ipsos tracking poll. The candidate remains the frontrunner in most national public opinion polls of likely Democratic primary voters.

Former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., who did not qualify for Thursday’s debate, went up with an ad in Iowa television markets in 2018 during that year’s Super Bowl. The candidate remains mired in the low-single digits in Iowa and nationwide, despite spending millions of dollars from his own fortune on advertising and other campaign efforts.

The degree to which political commercials move voters to support a given candidate depends on the style of the ad, research has found.

Ted Brader, political science professor at the University of Michigan, published a study that found campaign ads that produce fear in people, such as ones with “discordant music” and “pictures of violence and drug use,” cause people to seek more information after viewing, while more upbeat ads reduce viewer interest and result in the audience tuning out.

“These results suggest campaigns achieve their goals in part by appealing to emotions and emotional appeals can promote democratically desirable behavior,” Brader said in the study.

With 142 days left until caucus night, Iowans can expect ads from candidates with increasing frequency, on football game days and otherwise.