Negative Political Ads: Do They Work?

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Political attack ads — we gripe about them, try to avoid them and we end up tolerating them. Despite our opinion, experts say they’re sticking around because they work.

According to Dr. Omar Ali, professor at UNC-Greensboro, negative campaign ads work because if they are heard enough times some people will believe them to be true.

“Negative ads and lies, if repeated enough times, will be believed — it’s a general principle in advertising,” said Dr. Ali. “You repeat things over, and over again, some segment of the population will believe it.”

As we get closer to the election the blows dealt in political ads are expected hit harder.

“They become increasingly nasty and personal, attacking the integrity of the person’s character, ” said Dr. Ali.  

John Ivy an undecided voter and target of the ads says he isn’t a fan of the attacks.

“I’d much rather hear how you are going to help our country as opposed to what this gentleman did… have done… and flip-flopped. To be point-blank — how you are going to help me?” said Ivy.

Despite popular opinion, both candidates pour millions of dollars into air-time. 

Trone Brand Energy is a local advertising agency but they don’t produce political ads. As an industry standard they understand that during this time of year they capture a limited audience. 

“Because we know the political ads would obliterate the landscape throughout September and October. After that, there will be a lot of space,” said Martin Buchanan with Trone Brand Energy.

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