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Fire and Springsteen: 5 campaign adverts that sum up the US presidential campaign

From Joe Biden in flames to climate crisis, these adverts are sure to elicit some emotion

As the 2020 US presidential race draws to a close, it is time to look back on a frenetic and at times furious campaign.

Both sides have taken to the airwaves and social media to win votes, with sometimes bizarre results.

Here's a look at some of the top campaign ads in what has been a JK Rowling-novel-on-steroids-campaign between US President Donald Trump and Democratic hopeful Joe Biden.


Donald Trump’s voice gets more muffled every time pen touches paper in one of the latest Joe Biden campaign ads.

Although neither of the two nominees appear in the video, it packs a powerful punch in what isn’t being said.

In the 30-second clip, an empty black oval mouths Mr Trump’s words: “All of this with the global warming. A lot of it is a hoax. It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch. And I see again the forest fires are starting …”

A pen appears, filling in the moving ellipse as Mr Trump’s voice gets stifled until it can no longer be heard.

The camera zooms out revealing a full, filled in black oval next to Joseph R Biden’s name.

“Silence him. Vote by drop-box,” appears in text on-screen as votes fall into ballot boxes.

2. Firefighting climate change

Another hot topic as Mr Biden appeals to the youth is mental health. In a slightly longer spot, Arizona firefighter Melanie talks about the toll putting out forest fires has had on her psychological well-being.

“I do the job for the people but also for the love of the environment,” a solemn Melanie says as images of raging orange flames take over the screen.

The powerful advertisement has all it takes to make an impact on liberal millennials: a strong, fearless woman, a climate change narrative and two very good dogs.

“We have the science, we have the technology but if we don’t have leadership that believes in it, then there’s no funding, there’s no support,” Melanie says as dramatic instrumental music plays in the background.

"There’s no solution to the problem. We’re all facing it together. We all can either reap the rewards or have the consequences."

On the day the ad was released, Mr Biden tweeted in support of Melanie, thanking her for her sacrifices and calling the climate crisis an “existential threat”.

3. Home of the free, land of the brave

Snazzy, fully animated and to the point: this one-minute ad is heavy on the Americanisms, calling Kamala Harris “some smug democrat” who wants to jam “one hand in your face and another in your pocket”.

In this clip where sharp language and electric blues music run amok, calling the president “six-foot, three inches of let’s put America first” might not make much sense, but it certainly drives the point home.

All you need to know about Mr Trump, according to this ad, is that he’s a doer, who has done it like nobody has ever done it.

Even the language is Trump-esque as the macho narrator announces: “The game has changed and the democrats are officially crazy.”

There is a lot to unpack in this one and it certainly isn’t factually accurate, but who needs hard proof when the bald eagle is on your side?

4. 'In Joe Biden’s America, we’ll all be in danger'

Two veteran police officers sound the alarm in a heavily edited Trump campaign ad featuring Jo Biden and running mate Kamala Harris’s contorted faces embedded in crimson red flames.

A daunting voice begins: “While America’s cities burnt, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris fanned the flames.”

Two short but potent sound-bites from unidentified men described only as "veteran police officer" end the message.

“In Joe Biden’s America, we’ll all be in danger,” one of them says.

Supporting the police is supporting Donald Trump, the ad concludes.

Although sensationalist at best, the short clip is a must-watch, if only for its production value.

5. Speaking of red, white and blue ...

What’s more American than The Boss?

In his latest ad, Mr Biden had blue-collar hero Bruce Springsteen narrate the Democrat's upbringing and childhood, and how this simple, relatable man did not have anything handed to him (a jab at Mr Trump who reportedly made his fortune using a $1m loan from his father).

The barely veiled attempt at appealing to the "Average American" capitalises on a tender moment between father and son at the batting cages, a welder hard at work and, of course, a lorry driver pursing his lips in concentration.

Wearing a navy-blue suit, Mr Biden appears, walking in slow motion before Springsteen tells you more about the nominee’s small-town beginnings in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

The ad does not disguise its clear efforts to appeal to small-town, blue-collar workers who, Springsteen promises us on Mr Biden’s behalf, will “get peace of mind at the end of the day” if they vote for the Democrat.

In this reel of generic scenes from your typical rural American neighbourhoods, you are meant to keep in mind: he’s still Joey from the block.

Updated: November 2, 2020 12:02 AM

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