As the Republican primary heats up, that can only mean more ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? We'll be reviewing them as they come out. Today we have three ads featuring three candidates' wives, and it's impossible not to notice they're all blondes. As a member of this misunderstood community, it's sad to say the blonder the wife, the less effective she is at selling her husband.
The Ad: Mitt Romney, "Character"
The Issues: When there's an unexpected crisis, you want someone in the White House who you can count on to make moral decisions.
The Message: The ad flips through the Romney family album to remind you that Mitt Romney has had only one wife -- unlike some other candidates -- through good times and bad, skinny ties and chunky cable knit sweaters. Ann says, "And if you really want to know how a persona will operate, look at how they've lived their life. And i think that's why it's so important to look at the character of a person. To me it makes a huge difference. Maybe to some voters it doesn't. But for me it makes a huge difference." Translation: past behavior predicts future behavior. Once a cheater, always a cheater, right, ladies?
Who It's For: Women, conservatives concerned about the personal lives of their candidates.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Wow, they Romneys wore matching sweaters.
The Effect: Ann Romney seems warm and sincere. Plus, she's the only one chill enough to let you see her tiny eye wrinkles up close. Mitt Romney must be a human if he's married to this nice lady. A-
The Ad: Rick Perry, "American Story"
The Issues: Character, faith, Middle America
The Message: Rick Perry has had only one wife -- unlike some other candidates -- who waited patiently for him while he was serving the country -- unlike some other candidates -- in the Air Force. "We grew up in small towns with Christian values, values we still believe in," Anita says.
Who It's For: Women, people who don't want to vote for Mitt Romney but don't like Gingrich's personal history.
What Everyone Who Grew Up in Small Towns Thinks: Small towns can have just as many creeps per capita as big towns. The only difference is the creeps know your name when they see you in line at the grocery store.
What Everyone Else Thinks: Did Rick Perry just photobomb his own wife's ad?
The Effect: If the campaign wants to show Perry's personal story -- and his lifelong commitment to his wife and community -- the ad should show pictures of them in church, not boring B-roll of a random church. And it doesn't look like Anita Perry wants to be on TV. She doesn't really smile until her husband is on camera, though when he shows up her smile looks real. She should seem like she believes in her man so much she can't stop smiling through every campaign humiliation. Poor Hillary Clinton let herself be photographed in a swimsuit to help her husband. Come on! B
The Ad: Newt Gingrich, "Newt and Callista Gingrich Christmas Greetings"
The Issues: Americans show their civic pride with Christmas lights this time of year.
The Message: Newt is a wholesome member of a family who does normal things like look at Christmas lights at Christmastime. Callista is a nice, warm person and not a husband-stealer. She does things you can relate to, like love Christmas.
Who It's For: Women voters, people who don't want to vote for Mitt Romney but are nervous about Gingrich's personal history.
What Everyone Else Thinks: The script sounds like something you'd read on a cheap holiday card: "Is there anything more inspiring than American towns and neighborhoods brightly lit for the holidays? We take it as a sign of great optimism. It reminds us of the fire of freedom that burns bright in the America we love. And a prayer that the goodness of our nation will be rewarded with peace and brotherhood." That doesn't mean anything! Even by dumb political boilerplate standards.
The Effect: It seems weird to just hint that Gingrich is a family man. No point in being subtle. Callista needs to offer her personal testimony that her husband is not mean to women -- he helps old ladies bring in their groceries, buys girl scout cookies, sends her flowers, whatever. C
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.