In the United States, a portion of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, otherwise known as the McCain-Feingold Act, requires that a political candidate for a federal office - or the group that produced it - give "a statement by the candidate that identifies the candidate and states that the candidate has approved the communication." This means an ad has to say something like, "I'm Cole Rupt, and I approved this message." This only applies to candidates for Congress and the presidency.note It does not apply to candidates for state or local office, or to anything other than politicians.
The provision was added so that political candidates would be less likely to fund attack ads or ads with questionable claims. However, that doesn't stop outside parties like interest groups from running their own ads: the NRA or AARP could run an ad that says "Cole Rupt is a brain-eating alien," but it would obviously not have opposing candidate Bea Ribe's "approval." These must be followed by a statement along the lines of "Paid for by the Republicratic National Committee", or "The S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A.note has paid for this message and is responsible for its content".
However, a number of ads for things other than politicians are parodying this requirement, and including it on them even though it is not applicable to anything else. So some ad will say "TropeCo's tropes are tropier. We're TropeCo, and we approved this ad." Oh yeah, right, an ad by some company might not be approved by them.
Naturally, you most likely will see these types of ads around election season, when the campaign commercials on everyone's mind, and people are most likely to get the reference.
- These messages are a legal requirement in Australia for all political advertisements. They are presented in the form "Spoken by (Actor/Spokesman/Polititan), Authorized by (individual/association legal name)", spoken in double-time. It does make Astroturfing harder.
- They are likewise a legal requirement in New Zealand, presented in the form "Authorised by [Name], [Physical Address]" - for political parties, this is the party secretary and the party's headquarters respectively.
- As noted above about a president approving the commercial even when someone else is exclusively in it, Bill Clinton shilled for Barack Obama in a 2012 commercial, and Obama "approved" the message.
- A similar phenomenon in the 2016 election season had Attack of the Political Ad type ads that were basically just Donald Trump making outrageous statements accompanied by text and Hillary Clinton speaking to approve at the end. Joe Biden dipped into this during the 2020 election to a more direct extent, with one ad solely consisting of footage of Trump during a rally claiming "If I lose to [Biden], I dunno what I'm gonna do — I will never speak to you again!", followed up immediately with "I'm Joe Biden, and I approve this message."
- In Germany all political parties get guaranteed airtime for political ads on both public and private stations. However, to distinguish them from normal programming and other ads, a titlecard with voiceover is played before and after the ad saying something like "This is an ad of Party X, only the political party and not the station is responsible for the content of this ad."
- In Britain, with a similar system to Germany, they begin and end with something like "Now, a Party Political/Election Broadcast by the X Party" and "That was a Party Political/Election Broadcast by the X Party" (depending whether it's at election time or another time ).
- Jerry's Subs and Pizza, a Washington, D.C.-area sub sandwich franchise, during the 2008 election period, had a radio ad asking people to come in and pick their favorite sandwich, one for each of the (then three) major candidates (Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama). At the end, the announcer says, "I'm Jerry and I approved these sandwiches."
- One ad for chocolate milk showed brown cows protesting. At the end a brown cow stated: "I'm a brown cow and I approve this message."
- A Tostitos corn chip commercial shows two men, clearly politicians, standing at podiums arguing how the other is unqualified. One of them accuses his opponent of flip-flopping (taking one position then later switching and taking the other, like being in favor of individual ownership of guns, or opposing abortion, then changing to the other side), and the guy can hear the song "Tequila" by the Champs, and then decides to tell everyone to start partying, and the chips and dips come out. When the word "tequila" would be sung, the one-word product name is used. The sponsored product, an anthropomorphic bag of tortilla chips who is dancing, announces, "I'm Tostitos and I approved this message!"
- Played for laughs in Machete.
- Arrow. In "State vs. Queen", Count Vertigo does a Do Not Adjust Your Set broadcast announcing that he has secretly addicted large numbers of innocent people to the drug Vertigo, of which he controls the only supply. He concludes with, "I'm Count Vertigo, and I approve this high!"
- From Saturday Night Live's parody of Hillary Rodham Clinton's 3 a.m. ad: "I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this unfair and deceptive message."
- A FOX commercial for the The X Factor calls Simon Cowell the "best judge ever" and has him stating "I'm Simon Cowell and I approved this message."
- How I Met Your Mother: In "Sorry, Bro":
Ted: I never said I was gonna get back together with her. But I was thinking, she's new in town, would it be the worst thing in the world if I gave her a call?
Marshall: No, no, Ted, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It would be the fourth worst thing. Number one, supervolcano. Number two, an asteroid hits the earth. Number three, all footage of Evil Knievel is lost. Number four, Ted calls Karen. Number five, Lily gets eaten by a shark.
Lily: I'm Lily and I approve the order of that list.
- In an episode of 30 Rock, Tracy is manipulated by Jack into making a political ad encouraging black people not to vote. He finishes it off with "Im Tracy Jordan and I improved this message!"
- In 2006, WWE renamed their Taboo Tuesday PPV, where fans would get to vote online on who they wanted in matches and/or what kinds of matches would be on the show, Cyber Sunday. The Sandman was one of the three potential opponents, along with Chris Benoit and Kane (who was the winner of the vote, but not the match), for Umaga. The Sandman cut a promo urging the fans to vote for him. As this was a mid-term election year, he ended his promo with, "I'm the Sandman, and I approved this message."
- The West Wing: Minority candidate Matt Santos can only afford one single TV spot in a key market, so his team spend endless effort on coming up with something incredibly memorable and original. He ends up delivering the ad directly into the camera - live on air and personally, ending with a sarcastic "I'm Matt Santos, and you better believe I approved this ad!"
- A commercial for World of Warcraft announced the addition of Chuck Norris as an apparently very tough character in the game. An announcer says, "There are five million people playing World of Warcraft, only because Chuck Norris allows them to live," and at the end, Chuck says, "I'm Chuck Norris, and I approve this game."
- In We Happy Restaurant, the titular restaurant advertises its chickens with the following text:
Our genetically modified chickens are superb by all our internal standards.
- Popular vlogger Ray William Johnson ends all of his YouTube videos with "I'm Ray William Johnson, and I approve this message."
- "I'm Dan Rather and I approved this message. Kind of. Sort of. Not really."
- "I'm Ahuizotl and I approve of this message."
- Parodied in Robot Chicken: "My name is George W. Bush and I approve this message: Tacos rule!"
- "I'm Sentinel Prime, and I approve of this message."
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends had a campagin for the president of the home between Mr. Herriman and Frankie. Herriman resorted to an attack ad on Frankie which ended with "I'm Mr. Herriman and I approve this message."
- In a rather scary example, attack letters sent to U.S. government officials in 2013, including President Obama, tainted with ricin, included the message "I am KC and I approve this message."