As the presidential candidates continue to rack up delegates (most of them, anyway), viewers across the country are being inundated by political ads. They crest ahead of a caucus or primary, crash against eyeballs and eardrums, only to subside as the election machine rolls on to the next state.
Politics is etched into the zeitgeist, and brands looking to make their own marks have been quick to parody the overly earnest or jingoistic tone of these competing messages. These are the ads that do it the best.
"The Bud Light Party," Bud Light by Wieden+Kennedy New York
After two teasers, the campaign officially debuted during Super Bowl 50 with this 60-second spot featuring Amy Schumer in a pencil skirt and pearls, a dapper Seth Rogen, Paul "Not Everybody" Rudd and Michael Peña (an actual actor). Since the big game, Bud Light has released eight more cameo-laden spots in the campaign, with appearances by UFC fighter Ronda Rousey as a Secret Service stand-in and Mark Cuban exactly the way he is in real life.
"American-est," Chrysler by FCA Global
Martin Sheen and Bill Pullman sort of reprise their respective roles as President of the United States, never leaving the comfort of their cars and opining on the state of the union, their legacies and the privileges of power. The campaign debuted on President’s Day and featured five more spots.
"Captain Obvious Runs for President," Hotels.com by CP+B
The Hotels.com spokescaptain stars in a truly massive number of videos, more than one for every state in the country. The campaign kicked off with this candidacy announcement and featured plenty of online extras like pre-made GIFs, fan-editable green-screen video and live tweets of presidential debates.
"Frank Underwood campaign headquarters," Netflix by BBH New York & Allied Experiential
To build anticipation for the premiere of the fourth season of "House of Cards," Netflix built an actual campaign headquarters in Greenville, South Carolina, for the fictional president Frank Underwood. The installation was open to the public for a weekend in February, just a few weeks before the Super Tuesday primaries.
"Reach Across the Aisle," JetBlue by Mullen Lowe
JetBlue gave every passenger on a single flight a chance to win with compromise, assuming they could agree with people literally on the other side of an aisle. The 3-minute film tracks the tense negotiations as strangers debate on a single destination before finally coming to consensus — and winning free tickets there for everyone on board.
"Zoe for President," YMCA by Droga5
Zoe is the most adorable candidate of the year, though her announcement is a bit early — the toddler isn’t running for president until 2064. The 60-second ad, along with six other spots in the campaign, detail the advantages young children get from the Y, like child care, college prep and mentorship.
"I Purge to Keep My Country Great," Universal Studios
Okay, this one’s actually a trailer for the politically-themed horror movie "The Purge: Election Year." But the style and copy is a dead ringer for a sappy political ad, complete with rippling flags, a screeching eagle and smiling citizens cheerfully endorsing horrific social policies. In a wickedly subversive media buy, it also debuted on CNN during the 10th Republican presidential debate.
"This Is a Generic Presidential Campaign Ad," Dissolve
The stock-footage company Dissolve followed up its classic "This Is a Generic Brand Video" with a spot-on political ad for a nameless white guy created entirely from content in their database, including campaign staples like "lens flares, and fields in sunlight." Hey, it worked for Marco Rubio, right?
"#GrownUpPolitics," Green Party of England and Wales by Creature of London
This is an actual political ad, the second spoof in a row for the Greens by Creature of London. Anyone who’s watched the raucous debates in Parliament will recognize the politicians, portrayed here by kindergarteners debating complex issues like immigration policy and whose Mummy likes them. Last year’s video featured the opposition as members of a boy band.