Obama Touts Auto Job Growth in Michigan Web Ads

In Michigan, which will hold its Republican primary Tuesday, the Obama campaign is backing a small TV ad buy with persuasive ads on Detroit news sites. Like the television spots they support, the eye-catching web ads are geared toward convincing voters that the Obama administration’s bailout saved the auto industry from the brink of collapse, while Republican presidential hopefuls turned their backs on the American auto worker.

Before important GOP primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida, the president’s reelection campaign placed expandable, fact-filled ads on news site homepages in those states. While the other ads have attacked Republicans and touted the administration’s record on job growth, the Michigan campaign speaks directly to voters in the state, where economic health is hitched to firms like GM and Chrysler.

The web ads – seen today on the homepages of The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press, state that under Obama, 1.4 million auto industry jobs have been “saved.” The expandable ad displays a chart showing the number of auto industry jobs subtracted or added each quarter since the president took office. An accompanying ad argues that the auto industry is now competitive for the first time in decades.

The ads link to a page on the Obama site dedicated to the auto message, and displaying a video of the TV ad the campaign is running in Michigan. While the auto effort is primarily one of persuasion, it does double duty, asking supporters to sign up to “Stand with the president in the fight for American manufacturing.” Unions are important voting blocks and get-out-the-vote communities for Democrats, and the president needs to ensure strong support from union workers in the auto industry and other manufacturing sectors.

On the Obama campaign’s Facebook page, a post today also pushes the auto recovery message. A post yesterday promotes Obama-Biden iPhone cases, “all proudly made in the USA.”

Obama for America reportedly spent $47,000 on a television buy in Michigan. Homepage sponsorship of the two Detroit sites – both sold through the Detroit Media Partnership – costs $4,896.50 per day according to a Detroit Media rate card.

Republican hopeful Mitt Romney is running a tight race against Rick Santorum in Michigan, where Romney’s father was governor. Rather than discussing the Detroit auto industry – which Romney famously said should go bankrupt, his campaign is running ads attacking Santorum, and focusing on the U.S. economy rather than that of Michigan. On Facebook today, the Romney camp wrote, “My plans will strengthen America & strengthen Michigan. Let’s restore America’s promise & create an age of prosperity.”

It’s unclear how long the Obama campaign homepage ads will run, and they are likely complemented by geo-targeted ads that cannot be viewed outside Michigan. The Super PAC backing Obama’s campaign, Priorities USA, spent $15,000 on digital ads opposing Romney and targeting Michigan voters, according to the Federal Election Commission. A Romney loss and Santorum win in the state would be considered a score for Democrats, as national polling shows the president beating Santorum in a general election.

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