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Watch the 10 Most Notable Campaign Ads of 2016

4 minute read

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump famously spurned campaign ads in 2016, preferring to get free publicity by going on cable TV and making newsworthy remarks at his rallies.

But that didn’t stop his rivals from spending a lot on ads against him.

Some of the most notable campaigns ads of this election were aimed at taking down or responding to Trump, while the few noteworthy uplifting ads came either down ballot or from candidates who lost.

Here’s a look at the 10 most notable campaign ads of 2016.

Bernie Sanders, “America”

In a year of negative ads, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ uplifting ad in the Democratic primary, set to the tune of an old Paul Simon song, was the most successful uplifting ad, featuring a cross-section of Americans. Sanders may have lost, but Simon ended up singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” at the Democratic convention in an effort to bring both sides together.

Hillary Clinton, “Mirrors”

It’s a common technique in political ads to use your opponent’s words against them. But in Trump’s case, many of the best clips have been played to death. Clinton’s team used an innovative technique of showing people watching Trump instead, as in this powerful ad of young girls listening to Trump’s words about women.

Jason Kander, “Background Checks”

Candidates firing weapons in political ads is a cliche at this point. But Democratic Senate candidate Jason Kander took things to a new level as he pieced together a rifle while blindfolded, establishing his expertise while talking about his support for background checks.

Gerald Daugherty, “Please Re-Elect Gerald”

Texas Republican County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty turned a local race into a national phenomenon when his one-minute campaign ad went viral. The charming ad shows his family pleading to re-elect Daugherty, who is shown droning on about county issues as he helps around the house.

Carly Fiorina, “Faces”

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina made one of the best positive ads in the Republican primary with an ad that’s actually a direct attack on eventual Republican nominee Donald Trump, who mocked her face in front of a reporter from Rolling Stone.

Ted Cruz, “Cruz Commander”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made the most of one of his celebrity endorsements when he filmed an ad with Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson, even putting on black greasepaint to go hunting.

Hillary Clinton, “Captain Khan”

Clinton’s campaign had another powerful ad against Trump when they filmed Khizr Khan, father of a fallen Muslim soldier, asking if the Republican nominee’s vision for America would include him.

Donald Trump, “Dangerous”

Trump didn’t air as many ads as typical presidential nominees, but he went all out on the ones that did. This dark and foreboding ad hits Clinton on several fronts while featuring footage of her stumbling after leaving a 9/11 memorial, raising questions about her health.

Joss Whedon, “Verdict”

When Hollywood gets involved in political campaigns, it’s typically with cameo-filled fluff. But director Joss Whedon went in a different direction with this two-minute ad which unfolds with the patience of the first act of a Spielberg movie, before hitting the viewer with an emotional punch in its final moment.

“Why Trump?” Yoga Ad

Originally intended to air during the California primary, this online video from longtime Republican ad maker Bob Gardner was notable for hitting a new low in American political ads. In it, a young woman doing yoga bashes Trump as a bully and a racist before implying that his “size” doesn’t measure up.

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