The group Freedom’s Watch began a new ad campaign on December 6 with ads thanking U.S. troops during this holiday season. Freedom’s Watch ran its first ad campaign in late summer just before General Petraeus presented his report on how “effective” the U.S. surge was in Iraq. The first campaign by Freedom’s Watch did include spending in the West Michigan TV market, running a total of $36,625.00 worth of ads on WOOD TV 8 during a two-week period.
The current ad campaign is focused on the theme of “thanking the U.S. troops.” There are two TV/video ads and three print ads that Freedom’s Watch has created. According to their website, the “television ads will air across the nation December 6th-21st.” None of the West Michigan TV stations are running these ads, although each of the three Grand Rapids-based stations did run ads thanking U.S. troops in 2003 during the first months of the war in Iraq.
The TV ads are designed to get viewers to identify U.S. troops as “heroes” and “fighting for our freedom.” One of the ads begins with several individuals saying “thank you” and the narrator then saying “people are gathering all across the country to support our troops who are away from their families this holiday season.” The ad then cuts to a U.S. military veteran who says, “We’re proud of you.” The narrator continues by saying, “these men and women are heroes and deserve our undying gratitude.” Next we see an Iraq war veteran who says, “It was an honor to serve with you. God bless you all.”
The second TV spot begins with a series of holiday greetings. After the initial greetings there are statements such as, “You are in our hearts and prayers” and “We’re very proud of you.” In this ad we see a couple standing in front of the Washington monument saying thanking you for “standing up for our freedom.” In another scene there are a group of motorcycle riders sitting in front of the Jefferson Memorial and one of them says, “thank you for your service.” There is also a scene with kids and a dog who yell thank you “for protecting us” and a group of women in front of the Golden Gate bridge saying “You’re all heroes.” Finally, there is a man standing in front of the New York skyline and he says thank you “for keeping us safe.” Both of these ads have very emotionally driven music and American flags in almost every scene. These are clearly ads designed to continue the idea that the U.S. military is indeed protecting the American people and engaged in the noblest of causes.
So far these are airing on CNN and Fox News and the print ads have been in the New York Times and several smaller dailies across the country. The NBC network has refused to run these ads primarily because Freedom’s Watch website appears at the end of the ads. Alan Wurtzel of NBC said:
“We have a policy that prohibits acceptance of advertising that deals with issues of public controversy. This particular ad, in and of itself, is fine. It thanks the troops for their action overseas. We asked them to eliminate a URL address where a person is asked to contact elected officials and told not to cut and run on the war on terror.”
Because of NBC’s refusal to run these ads, Freedom’s Watch is encouraging their supporters to write letters to the network in the hope that it will pressure them to run the ads.