Madison Avenue Knows Best

"The spots may be optimally situated by the blunt standards of Madison Avenue, which puts a premium on placing commercials in programs where they will have the most emotional effects," writes Jim Rutenberg, in an article on presidential campaign advertising. The "optimal situation" he notes involves Iraq-focused Bush and Kerry ads, which run "most intensely in newscasts," and as such are "playing like running commentaries over who is better qualified to preside over the action unfolding between the commercials." Brown University political science professor Darrell West warned that this advertising strategy carries some risks: "How voters are going to see the ad is going to depend on whether the war is good or bad that day."