Ted Cruz is always just a few steps behind Donald Trump, both in the polls and now on the air. The day after Trump released his first television campaign ad, which featured illicit border crossings and an ominous voiceover, Cruz released an ad in the same vein.
"Invasion" takes a more comical approach to undocumented immigration. "When the mainstream media covers immigration, it doesn’t often see it as an economic issue, but I can tell you it is a very personal economic issue," Cruz says in a clip from one of his stump speeches, as white collar men and women in suits and high heels ford a river and dash to safety across bare scrubland. "And I will say the politics of it would be very, very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were crossing the Rio Grande. Or if a bunch of people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages in the press."
The ad switches with footage from one of the many Republican debates: a resolute Cruz juxtaposed beside a nervous-looking Marco Rubio, whom Cruz has consistently attacked over disagreements about immigration policy.
As far as political ads go, it’s well done, with a clear message presented with wit and emotional depth, from the complex visual metaphor to the closing tagline: "Trust Ted" merging into "Trusted."
Typical for Cruz ads, the production values are strong, like "Scorpion," which aired in September and also required outdoor camera work in a harsh environment. The pacing is engrossing, even for those who find the messaging just gross. The on-camera talent is extensive (and probably expensive), and purposefully hammy. It’s funny — the better to lampoon both media elites and undocumented workers alike.
The day before, Cruz also released a straightforward ad, "First Principles," where he speaks directly into the camera about his unwavering stances. That makes 13 television and radio ads from the Cruz campaign — seven in the last month alone.
In the third quarter of last year, Cruz spent just under $400,000 on media placement, a number that will likely be much higher when his campaign makes its mandatory FEC filings at the end of January.