Presidential Campaign 2008: Television Ads



An interdisciplinary roundtable

Rose Art Museum. Lee Gallery
Brandeis University
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
5:00-6:30 p.m.

Join Brandeis faculty for an interdisciplinary conversation about the "political aesthetics" of the 2008 Presidential campaign. What surface and implicit messages about race and difference are broadcast in campaign television advertisements, Saturday Night Live appearances, robocalls, and associated images? To what extent is the campaign being waged on the terrain of the unconscious? We will screen representative clips and engage in a free-wheeling conversation about the relationship between art and politics in our present moment.

Panelists include:

Jill Greenlee (Politics)
Ibrahim Sundiata (African and Afro-American Studies)
Mark Auslander (Anthropology)

Co-sponsored by the Rose Art Museum and the M.A. Program in Cultural Production

Let's use this space to reflect thoughtfully on the semiotic and cultural dimensions of television ads created for the 2008 Presidential race. We ask contributors to refrain from excessive partisan political commentary and to concentrate on "unpacking" the manifest and latent contents of the ads, as well as the meta-discourses generated by and around the ads and their associated media cycles. We will also discuss non-mainstream, internet based video works, including parodies of mainstream campaign ads.

Please post links to interesting ads as you come across them, in reverse chronological order (most recent ads first).

For clarity's sake, let us post in two different sections: (A) mainstream, normative ads produced by the actual campaigns or party committees, and (B) the insurgent or parodic works produced outside of the official campaigns themselves. (Admittedly, the line between these is sometimes difficult to determine!)

Note: There are many on line compilations of campaign ads from this year and previous campaigns, including:


Let's post commentary in the Discussion area, by clicking on the "discussion" tab above.

Links to (Mainstream) 2008 Campaign Ads

*See Obama campaign ads at:

*See McCain campaign ads at:

McCain "Storm" ad (RNC)

McCain/Britney Spears ad

McCain "Acorn" ad (10/18/08) "ACORN forced banks to issue risky loans"

McCain "Sweat Equity" (Joe the Plumber) 10.22.08

McCain. Web Ad: Ayers 10.09;08

McCain: Chicago Machine ad 9.26/08

McCain: Disrespectful (defending Palin)

Barack Obama, "Country I Love" (June 22)

John McCain (Supporters, denounced by the McCain campaign) North Carolina GOP anti-Obama ad. April 2008.

Hillary Clinton. "Bitter" ad, Pennsylvania. April 13 (?) 2008

Barack Obama. Response to the Clinton "3 am." ad. February 2008.

Hillary Clinton, "3 am" ad. February 2008.

Barack Obama. Superbowl ad. early Febuary(?) 2008.

Obama, Iowa Ad. January 2008?

Links to Parodic Campaign Ads and "insurgent" video works

Obama, Yes We Can Music Video (Jan 08?)

SNL Halloween Party 2007 (Obama's appearance)

For examples of some of the more vitriolic anti-Obama internet-based ads, see:
Note: This website is discussed in a front page New York Times story:

"Why I'm voting Republican" (June 2008?)

Rightwing Attacks

Sean Hannity's (Fox)

Barack Hussein Obama and Friends - A History of Radicalism