Matt Negrin and Jonathan Karl of ABC News report that the one-minute spot below, funded by pro-Obama Super PAC Priorities USA Action, is viewed by "a person at a Republican group that has tested Democratic attacks on Romney" as "potentially the most devastating yet."
It's racked up more than 1 million views on YouTube -- "more than 10 times any other Super PAC ad," say Negrin and Karl -- and is also running on TV in Ohio and other battleground states. The spot quotes a worker whose factory was bought and then shut down by Bain Capital, the secretive firm co-founded by Mitt Romney. At one point in the spot a quote from a newspaper is superimposed over a still photo of an imperial-looking Romney: "There's little question he made a fortune from businesses he helped destroy." In a crafty twist, the quote is from the New York Post, the Murdoch-owned tabloid and sister company of conservative kingmaker Fox News.
Though tons of attention has been paid this election cycle to the pernicious effect of Super PACs, the truth is that most spots funded by them have gained relatively modest traction on the web -- until now -- at least compared to ads emanating from the official campaigns. Like the spot below, titled "What Happened?," an attack on Obama for attacking Romney, which ends with an "I'm Mitt Romney and I approve this message" voice-over imprimatur. It's just five days old and has already topped 700,000 views on YouTube.
According to Reuters, pro-Obama Priorities USA Action raked in just $6.1 million in June; Restore Our Future, the leading pro-Romney Super PAC, raked in more than three times as much, $20 million, in the same month. Which means we're surely on the cusp of seeing a barrage of scorched-earth retaliatory ads from Restore Our Future. But this election season, the old question of which camp can buy up air time the fastest may be partly trumped by which spots end up exploding in social media.
P.S. Another factory worker who appears in an earlier anti-Bain ad funded by Priorities USA Action (which has yet to crack 200,000 views on YouTube) may hate Romney, but he's no fan of Obama either, according to Mike Elk of the progressive magazine In These Times.
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Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.