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August 29, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Unlike previous years when political ads for presidential candidates focused on creating a positive image, generally presenting the candidates with family members, the majority of ads from both the Romney and Obama camp during the current campaign have been attack ads featuring footage from network news shows often including the images of familiar anchors, according to Kantar Media Campaign Media Analyst Elizabeth Wilner. “Despite being her husband’s humanizing, not-so-secret weapon, Ann Romney has appeared only briefly in a few general election ads that have aired a collective 187 times; NBC News’ Tom Brokaw appeared in a single Romney primary ad that aired 2,250 times,” Wilner wrote. “A still photo of Sasha and Malia Obama showed up in one of their dad’s commercials that aired almost 7,000 times; three network news anchors appeared in another Obama spot that aired almost 12,000 times.” Using footage from network news programs is particularly effective since it targets swing voters, Wilner observed. Of course, she notes, “News executives cringe and complain while the advertisers claim legal ‘fair use’ of the footage. And stations are leery of appearing to censor candidates and other political advertisers by pulling the ads.”