7 Top Ads of the US Election

Vintage tv in front of a blackboard. There are multicoloured lines drawn on the chalkboard. The lines are straight up to the tv coming out distorted. Propaganda or disinformation concept

As the US election finally draws to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of the best ads of the campaign.

From the start of the primaries to the final sprint to the finish line, we’ve seen incredibly powerful ads – and some downright awful ones – from campaigns and political action committees.

What makes a great ad? 

It defines what the election’s about. And whether it’s designed to energize the base or persuade the undecided, it should always tell voters what’s at stake – and motivate them to vote.

It grabs our attention with a creative concept that stands out. And connects on an emotional level. 

In short, a great ad delivers the right message to the right audience.

This election cycle, we saw new ads dropping every day. It’s estimated that the presidential campaigns alone will have spent $1.8 billion on media. In fact, demand is so high in swing states that YouTube is reportedly struggling to place political ads in front of enough viewers.

Here’s just seven memorable spots that top our list of great presidential campaign ads from 2020.

“Empty Chairs” (Biden Campaign)

Biden is defining this election by what people have lost in this pandemic as a result of Trump’s failed leadership. This ad from the Biden campaign offers a sobering view of what the COVID statistics really mean in people’s lives: it’s about the loved ones that so many families have lost.

“We’re Listening” (Biden Campaign)

This ad offers a message of racial justice that’s focused on the choice of leadership. The visuals are striking throughout the ad, and substantive policy changes are highlighted throughout. Biden closes the ad by posing the question, “Who do we want to be?”

“Donna” (Biden Campaign)

The power of personal stories can’t be underestimated. This ad features a grandmother who can’t see her grandchildren because of Trump’s failure to control the pandemic. It’s a story of love and separation that reflects what lockdown has meant for so many families and seniors. It also offers a contrast with Trump without attacking him, offering the potential to persuade former Trump voters to rethink their choice.

“Girl in the Mirror” (The Lincoln Project)

What can we say about the Lincoln Project? While there’s some debate over whether their ads are moving audiences – or just appealing to decided voters – there’s no argument that their ads pack a punch. The freedom of being independent from a political campaign has given them the power to produce sharp, devastating, and brilliantly creative ads every day – for months on end! It’s impossible to choose just one favourite, but Girl in the Mirror stands out. It’s hard to listen to Trump’s horrific comments about women, but this ad pivots to invite viewers to imagine a better future – and vote to make it happen. 

“Dear Young People, Don’t Vote 2.0” (PACRONYM)

What could be better than an ad that gets a laugh within the first few seconds? If you haven’t seen the original Dear Young People, Don’t Vote ad from the 2018 midterms, we recommend you go watch it on YouTube. Right now! And, seriously, young people? Go vote!  

“Tell You” (Biden Campaign)

This brand new ad for the final week of the campaign has a brilliant creative concept. It connects with busy parents by featuring a mom trying to juggle all the competing demands for her attention. It’s a great example of meeting people where they are. 

“Go From There” (Biden Campaign)

The Biden campaign has produced a lot of ads about Joe’s vision and plan for healing America. This one is simple, beautiful, and offers a hopeful and realistic promise to a divided nation: the promise of a fresh start. “There’s so much we can do if we choose to take on problems, and not each other. And choose a president who brings out our best.” Well put.