Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Political ad

I love political advertising.

The problem with most local political advertising is their overwhelming sameness. Partially it comes from the fact that too many candidates want advertising that looks like what they think political advertising should look like. Combine that with the pathological fear of causing any political contraversy and it makes for much dull and dreariness on the local front.

The other problem is that local advertising agencies, while experts in designing and selling the latest design for milk cartons, are pathetically useless at producing the kind of political advertising that has the required impact.

Finally, our local political culture has a bias against the kind of hard-hitting political advertising that you see in the US. That doesn't mean they won't work here. It just means you need to approach the issues differently.

Here is an ad that is definitely worth viewing.

This article
in the New York Times provides some background. The ad shows the actor Michael J. Fox calmly asking viewers to support stem cell research by voting for several Democratic candidates in Maryland, Missouri and Wisconsin.

The previous paragraph does no justice in describing the devastating impact of this ad although you might get some inkling when I remind you that Fox has Parkinson's disease.

Take a look.

Needless to say this ad has drawn much republican fire. As noted in the Times, Rush Limbaugh rushed in to discredit Mr. Fox. The conservative radio talk show host told his listeners that the actor either "“didn'’t take his medication or was acting."” Mr. Limbaugh later apologized for the accusation, but said that "“Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democrat politician."

That doesn't change the fact that this ad has the Republicans on the run by intensely personalizing, through a popular and likeable actor, an abstract issue like stem cell research.

This ad does what good ads must do: it cuts through the clutter and makes the voter pay attention.

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