Bahr: Political commercials are a waste of money


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Columnist Connor Bahr urges politicians to stop filling up ad space on YouTube and TV with their campaign ads. Bahr believes paying for ads is a waste because people prefer looking up candidates themselves over being faced with ad after ad against their own will. 

Connor Bahr

Dear politicians, for the love of God, please stop buying ad space on YouTube and TV. I am so overly tired of hearing the same 30 seconds of you speaking every time a commercial break comes on or I switch to another video. In particular, Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer have been the most prominent politicians speaking to me against my will and, although it may be petty, this is most likely going to make me less willing to vote for you.

Pete Buttigieg has spent more money than any of the other leading Democratic candidates on advertisements targeting Iowans. In fact, he has spent roughly $250,000 on both Facebook and Google (which includes Youtube). This is five more than the other candidates, and it shows. Of the handful of Buttigieg’s ads that I have seen, I can nearly repeat them from memory because they show up over and over again. On the corner of every screen, there seems to be a Buttigieg clickable advertisement. The sheer amount of content is ridiculous and, honestly, miserable for the consumer.

Whether it is Buttigieg, Steyer or Sanders, almost every one of the ads says the same thing. They hit the main talking points: climate change, how bad Trump is and maybe health care. Of course, because most of the advertisements are targeted toward Iowans, some mention “rural Americans.” All of this is accompanied by small clips of the candidate talking not to the camera, but to people who are smiling. What I absolutely despise so much about these advertisements is how shallow they are. To me, they seem like caricatures of political advertisements. If someone came out tomorrow and told me that those were parodies of real political advertisements, I would believe it without any doubt. The candidates are so obviously saying exactly what they think we want to hear. 

I don’t think that spending hundreds of thousands of donated dollars on ads that I am simply going to skip is going to help them at all either. In fact, I have become so annoyed that someone would spend so much money just to interrupt my YouTube videos that it makes me not want to vote for them. If people want to learn about a candidate they will watch a debate or attend a rally or do digging online, and those people will already know everything you put in your commercial. Those who would be receiving that information for the first time probably don’t want it and, if they do, they won’t want to see the same information over and over again. 

Hopefully, as the caucus concludes and the commercials inevitably completely switch up their tone and content to target other demographics, us Iowans will be past the onslaught of false promises, fake messages and fake politicians.