In advertising, an attack ad is an advertisement engineered to negatively impact an opponent's image or reputation. They are normally a part of smear campaigning, in a large well-funded project, often distributed via mass media. An attack ad will often give a skewed view of an opponent's platform, by exaggeration, or even, lying. Most of the time, they will involve some form of innuendo. Most politicians view attack ads as undesirable.
- 1993 Chrétien attack ad. This advertisement became famous, after it backfired horribly on the Progressive Conservative party of Canada, attacking Canadian Liberal leader Jean Chrétien for his appearance. The ad attacked Chrétien's Celebral palsy, famously stating:
|“||Does this look like a prime minister?||”|
Civil liberty groups and the general public took offense to that, and in that year's election, the Conservative party lost most of their seats, and the Liberal party won 177 seats out of 295. The Progressive Conservative party's demise, and subsequent resurrection as the Conservative Party of Canada, is often blamed on the ad.
- Daisy Girl advertisement. This ad, showing an innocent girl, with daisies, while a voice behind counted down to zero, and zooming in to see a nuclear explosion, was disturbing, and resulted in the attacked party, Barry Goldwater, losing the election.
Ad hominem properties
An attack ad is said to be an example of the ad hominem fallacy, by attacking the person, not the ideas. This results in general dissatisfaction with voters, especially those who realize the ad is trying to fool them. Needless to say, the danger of a backlash is present.