Do Political Ads featuring Celebrities Work?

There is an ad that advocates for stem cell research that features Michael J. Fox that was created and has been running over the last week. Fox is living with Parkinson’s Disease, and he and others believe that Embryonic Stem Cell Research can lead to a cure for his disease and other ailments in the future.

We talked earlier about whether endorsements of candidates by groups influenced your vote. The article in the first link says that this ad is effecting the opinions of potential voters. There has been a counter-ad put out by opponents of Stem Cell Research, and that ad can be seen here.

Do you find ads like this influential?
Could campaigns like this change your vote?

One Love. One II.

Stem Cell Research


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

5 responses to “Do Political Ads featuring Celebrities Work?”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Particularly it does work for people who are tired and abused by the political bantor. Pop culture is system with strong roots. If the elections weren’t televised some people wouldn’t even’t know they were going on.

  2. Brandon Q. says :

    Unfortunately, I think ads like this are very effective, especially when they get played over and over again on news talk shows. I think the larger issue is that because with negative campaigning being the norm, an ad featuring a celebrity appears to be so refreshing as to cause the public at large to look at the candidates in a new light.

  3. Garlin II says :

    Thanks for the responses.

    Anon, I’d like to challenge the notion that people are ‘tired and abused’ by political bantor. I’d argue that people who are only responsive to these sorts of ads have not been abused because they did not pay attention to the political ads in the first place. It is sad, but I do agree with you, that people only respond to things that are on television. How do we combat that? By putting relevant things on TV!

    B, what is funny though is that though people claim to be ‘tired of’ negative ads, they are far and away the most effective form of political advertising. Why is it that people say they don’t want something, but at the end of the day that is what they respond to/act upon? This problem is analogous to the argument that says that there is no mass market for positive and/or progressive hip hop.

  4. Brandon Q. says :

    Good to have you back in the game G. I think your question is too deep to be limited to the issue of political ads. However, just because political ads are effective does not necessarily mean that people can not be tired of them. For example, I don’t like Folger’s coffee and I am tired of this slogan, but it is crazy effective, “The best part of waking up, is Folger’s in your cup.”

  5. Garlin II says :

    Fair enough B, I guess that I can allow the scope to be widened a bit :-).

    I think we have an issue of definition here. When I think of someone being tired of something, I think of someone who is annoyed and no longer responsive. The example here is someone who simply ignores a persistently nagging spouse. My quibble here is that these ads are definitely not being ignored by potential voters.

    I’m not in advertising, marketing, or sales. I guess I just have a hard time understanding why people do things or respond so easily or readily to things that they “know” they don’t want or like (examples here include coffee and alcohol, which many people will readily admit theat they don’t like the taste of). I guess there’s more to it.

    So the next question is, how can something like voting become so appealing that people will do it no matter what, as faithfully as they drink their morning coffee?

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