The general election has begun! And so has the onslaught of campaign ads. Which ones succeed? Which fail? In Ad Watch, we review them as they come out. Today: The Republican National Committee says Obama forgot the recession, while Obama says you guys just don't know how far we've come. Plus, the worst political ad all year.

The Ad: Republican National Committee, "Forgetting the Recession?"

The Issues: The economy, and Obama's lack of understanding of it.

The Message: Obama is so disconnected from the suffering of regular Americans in this economy that he forgets. The ad uses footage from Obama's fundraiser with George Clooney Thursday, in which Obama says "people forget" how bad things were in 2008 and 2009 -- and "sometimes I forget." 

Where It Airs: The Internet.

Who It's For: We are starting to wonder who is in charge of picking out music for RNC ads, because earlier this month it posted an ad featuring a Euro dance track clearly targeted to the youths. This ad features maudlin piano music of the kind you might find on a soap opera. Perhaps the target is housewives and grandmas?

What Everyone Else Thinks: This quote is taken out of context.

The Effect: Obama does look disconnected partying while the ad shows sad people and sad unemployment statistics. But this ad is a huge downer -- it doesn't seem like the kind of thing that will rile up supporters. Also, it distorts the meaning of Obama's words. C+


The Ad: Barack Obama, "Brian from Ohio"

The Issues: The auto industry bailout, the economy.

The Message: Obama helped real live human beings, the ad says. It features Ohio autoworker Brian Slagle, who says he got laid off as the recession hit. “Obama stuck his neck out for us, the auto industry," Slagle says. "He wasn’t going to let it just die, and I’m driving in this morning because of that, because of him." The ad is unusually dark, as it films Slagle getting up in the pre-dawn hours to go to work and driving down a dark highway.

Where It Airs: Ohio. It's part of the Obama campaign's $25 million ad buy in swing states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, and Virginia.

Who It's For: Swing state voters who are frustrated the economy's not getting better fast enough.

What Everyone Else Thinks: The Republican National Committee pointed out that the company Slagle works for, Johnson Controls received $299 million in stimulus to make batteries, but that it built only one factory, instead of the promises two. Plus, the single factory is working at half capacity, ABC News reports. Republicans will say Obama's best examples of success are mediocre at best.

The Effect: Ads with regular people talking are so much better than the ones with those creepy voiceover guys. Plus, certain workers with early start times can identify with a guy who drinks his coffee in a massive Big Gulp cup. The music is cheesy. B


The Ad: Committee for an Effective Valley Congressman, "Howard Berman: MAN ON THE STREET"

The Issues: Partisan fighting in Washington.

The Message: You might feel apathetic, dear voters, but fear not: there's at least one man in Washington who isn't cynical. Howard Berman is the kind of guy even the most fake-angry construction worker can get behind.

Where It Airs: The Super PAC has purchased $500,000 in air time on local cable in the San Fernando Valley area, LA Weekly reports.

Who It's For: Howard Berman represents California's 30th congressional district, which, as Politico's Charles Mahtesian points out, means the Super PAC should have been able to tap some of the filmmaking talent in the San Fernando Valley area Berman represents. We guess the ad is for people who haven't watched TV since the 80s? 

What Everyone Else Thinks: This ad is ridiculously cheesy -- the production values look cheap, the acting is unconvincing. It looks like a local mattress ad.

The Effect: LA Weekly says it looks like the ads was produced in 1982. Mahtesian says a reader called it "most certainly one of the worst political TV ads of 2012." An ad with such an obviously fake "man on the street" isn't going to convince many people that Berman is sincere. F