3.The Big Bird: Obama for America TV Ad

Obama for america tv ad

The Big Bird: Obama for America TV Ad

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZxs09eV-Vc

The Big Bird: Obama for America TV Ad

The Big Bird: Obama for America TV Ad.

In 2012, US presidential candidates used the internet and social media as an instrument to respond to people’s challenges following three presidential debates. They used a metaphor-filled advertisement to persuade the audience and win them on their sides.

Notably, political ads use metaphor to mock, dramatize and vilify candidate images and statements. Candidates spend millions of dollars in an attempt to convince the voters to think they are the best. They always use rhetorical strategies such as ethos, logos, and pathos to influence the listeners (Mumby & Spitzack, 2013).

Additionally, the ads are characterized by a powerful language that, of no doubt, persuasive. One of the ways in which campaign ads manipulate language in their speeches is via the use of metaphors. George Lakoff claims that metaphor is a crucial tool that helps individuals understand one thing in terms of another that is more familiar and based on tangible experience. Mitt Romney said in the presidential debate, “I will cut the federal subsidy to PBS despite the fact that I love Big Bird.” PBS is a nonprofit organization whose ionic character, Big Bird, would be greatly affected Romney’s policy of cutting fund. Obama’s campaign team used this opportunity to attack Romney, hence coming with a campaign ad with a title “Bird Bird.” In this ad, he mocks and ridicules Romney via the use of rhetorical appeal strategies and metaphors (Mumby & Spitzack, 2013).

According to the ad, “Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, and Dennis Kozlowski,” are financial tycoons and infamous fraudsters. The three appears on the screen one with a handcuff around his wrist. “Criminals, Gluttons of greed, and d the evil genius who towered over them?”  The ad changes to another where the big bird is seen staring through the window. “One man has the guts to speak his name”

The ad continues and show videos of speeches where Romney uses the term “Big Bird.” what follows is the Big Bird saying, “It’s me Big Bird!” The voice of the narrators goes ahead and describes the character as Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street,” The author backs this by images from Sesame Street and Wall Street signs. The author ends with a voice saying, Mitt Romney. Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest.” At this particular moment, the ad shows a huge bird sleeping in its net.

The ad uses several structural, direct and orientational metaphors throughout. At the beginning of the ad, the narrator names more than three financial figures, referring to them as criminals and gluttons of greed.  The phrase is a good example of a direct metaphor to the convicted CEOS to Big Bird which represents PBS. The narrator proceeds and states, “and the evil genius who towered over them” Here, the term towered is an orientational metaphor (Murphy, 2016). The ad uses the word to mean the bird is the biggest criminal among the earlier mentioned names. Simultaneously, the image of the big bird shows through the window to imply it is the genius evil. In the statement, one man has the guts to speak his name,” the author means Romney has intestine, but he actually had the courage to single him ought.

It is possible the audience might not have a clue of what the ad is about. In the last parts, the Big Bird comes out and identifies itself to the audience, “It’s me Big Bird.”  The narrator’s voice continues and says, “a menace to our economy.” Here, the narrator suggests the big it taking all the money that, in turn, affect the population.  The narrator supports his idea by introducing another form of metaphor. He compared Sesame Street and to Wall Street.  The ad concludes with the phrase, Mitt Romney. Taking on our enemies, no matter where they nest.”  The word is used here to mean “fighting. Similarly, the term nest mans no matter where they hide or who they are.

Obama’s campaign team purposefully created this metaphor-filled ad to attack Romney and make the audience believe he had a better agenda than his opponent. Throughout the campaign ad, the narrator uses a dark that makes it have a pathos effect. The author uses each to portray the bad of Romney (Murphy, 2016).  The displays the images of infamous personnel such as Ken Lay, Bernie Madoff, and Dennis, and compares them to the Big Bird. Direct comparison to the individuals with the Big Bird convinces the audience and make them believe, indeed, Romney is not a good candidate. No individual will intend to trust a criminal with his votes. Notably, the ad uses other rhetorical styles such as Pathos, ethos, AND logos to make its message home.


In conclusion, I would say the use of metaphors is displayed throughout the ad. It uses three types of metaphors; direct metaphor, structural metaphor, and orientational metaphors. Furthermore, it uses rhetorical styles to reinforce the metaphors and persuade the voters in favor of Obama. In a nutshell, The Big Bird: Obama for America TV Ad is a persuasive ad that is capable of winning the heart of the audience and make them believe that Mitt Romney is not the best candidate.


Mumby, D. K., & Spitzack, C. (2013). Ideology and television news: A metaphoric analysis of political stories. Communication Studies34(3), 162-171.

Murphy, G. L. (2016). On metaphoric representation. Cognition60(2), 173-204.

Obama for America TV Ad

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