Trump Rolls the Dice With Radio Ads; Will Voters Listen?

GOP 2016 Trump

GOP presidential candidate and renewed front-runner Donald Trump is putting his money where his mouth is. The real-estate mogul released his first two radio ads Thursday vowing to “protect Israel and brutally and quickly cut the head off of ISIS.”

Trump’s campaign rolled out the ads in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.  According to the campaign statement, the ads are valued at $300,000 and will run through the end of November.

The first ad narrated by a woman includes the following:

“Donald Trump learned the values of hard work, determination, and faith at an early age. He went on to build one of the world’s most iconic brands and companies, which employs thousands of people. Donald Trump is running for president because politicians are all talk and no action. They will never make our country great again.”

Here are the highlights:

● “He’ll stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking by building a wall on our southern border -- and he will make Mexico pay for it.”

●‘‘He will negotiate great trade deals and make our military so strong no country will ever mess with us.”

●‘‘Donald Trump will protect Israel and brutally and quickly cut the head off of ISIS.”

●‘‘He is self-funding his campaign. He will only be responsible to the American people, not special interests and lobbyists. It’s time to make America great again, maybe greater than ever before. Vote Donald Trump for president.”

Make America Great Again - Radio Spot 1 Your browser does not support the audio element.

The second ad features Trump’s voice with direct address to Iowans, he replicates most of the script from the first ad but omits the ISIS comment and adds promises to take care of veterans, protect the Second Amendment and religious liberties, and repeal and replace Obamacare. He also points out his “opponents have no experience in creating jobs or making deals” and reaffirms his “winning” mentality “I don’t disappoint people. I produce.”

Make America Great Again - Radio Spot 2 Your browser does not support the audio element.

“Donald Trump’s concern is getting through the primaries which is why he is going on air with quite extreme stances, those are not stances that you would advance if you wanted to win a general election,” said Donald P. Green, Ph.D., a professor of political science at Columbia University specializing in voting behavior and political campaigns mobilization of voters.

Green says it is very difficult to know how the public will respond to certain ads without directly testing them because there are so many nuances that characterize the relationship between the message of the ad and the way it will be received by a particular audience. He says one of the underlying theories of when and why messaging would work comes down to conveying new information not just framing an issue.

“In order to influence people it may take more than a message or that the message is more influential if it is saying something new and memorable,” said Green. “Perhaps the cutting off the heads of ISIS member’s line is designed to reaffirm the strength of Trump’s position on that issue, something that is bold and memorable.”

Staying in the fore front of primary caucus voters’ minds and being memorable seems to be the Donald’s main focus. In addition to the radio ads, Trump is scheduled to host Saturday Night Live (SNL) on November 7, a bold move that will surely garner attention but could also come with a cost.

“It’s obviously risky to do anything involving live TV especially when there is likely to be a protest, on the other hand it’s another opportunity to rev up the focus on him personally which is what he considers his strong suit,” said Green.

Trump appears to be the only presidential frontrunner to host SNL while running for a major political parties’ nomination. In 2003, Rev. Al Sharpton hosted SNL when he was running for the Democratic nomination, but he was not the frontrunner.

On Wednesday, protesters opposing Trump’s SNL appearance gathered outside of Comcast’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) NBC headquarters in New York City for a "Dump Trump" rally. The participants said Trump has been “very divisive toward the Latino community” with his comments about Mexicans being “rapists and murders” which they say does not deserve a platform.

While Trump’s much anticipated SNL appearance is sure to make a lasting impression on the public, Green says his radio ads may only have a short term effect.

“When TV and radio ads by candidates have been tested especially early in the campaign they tend to be influential but the effects also tend to subside very quickly.”