Why do political ads stink?
July 6, 2004 9:51 PM   Subscribe

Joshua Green wrote an interesting and insightful piece regarding the current state of political advertisements. Here is an example of an ad by a media consultant he refers to, based in Pittsburgh. Another spin here. I've often wondered why they're so predictable. The Atlantic gives us a glimpse into poly. ad history and, quite possibly, its future.
posted by BlueTrain (8 comments total)
I found the Atlantic piece to be informative and persuasive. Three major points to take home are: 1) Political ads are overly standardized because politicians are less willing to target specific demographics. 2) These ads also reintroduce their audience to familiar subject material, like the name of the candidate, instead of focusing on a particular issue, which fails to captivate, or motivate, their intended audience. 3) Negative ads are still effective. But the why is becoming more complex and our (audience) sensibilities are being abused with dual track positive/negative campaigns. (Not to mention the implications involved when women tend to use negative ads more so than men.) 4) Political ads are, in fact, becoming less effective, possibly due to the complexity and effectiveness of modern consumer ads.

Finally, I thought that this example was hilarious, and worth pointing out:

Brabender then played "Ski Patrol," which was created with the Bush campaign in mind but never had a chance to air. It begins with a shot of blue sky and pristine alps. "Howard Dean was granted a deferment from the military after showing up at a recruitment office with an x-ray indicating he had a bad back," the voice-of-God narrator says. Suddenly a skier shoots off a snowy precipice and slaloms expertly down the mountain. "That very same year, Dean went on to ski eighty times—eighty—helping him to become an expert skier and the perfect commander in chief ... if we ever go to war against Switzerland."
posted by BlueTrain at 9:52 PM on July 6, 2004

That (from the above link) is the most violent political ad I have ever seen. How fucking low.
posted by interrobang at 12:55 AM on July 7, 2004

Holy.fucking.shit. I cannot believe that advertisement.

If that sort of thing keeps up, what is to stop someone from crafting a "Day After Tomorrow" scenario to take down a candidate who is environmentally unfriendly, or at another extreme, flesh eating zombie foetuses coming back to live to haunt a pro choice candidate?
posted by psmealey at 6:52 AM on July 7, 2004

Nothing's to stop those things, or to stop someone from running an ad implying that Candidate Foobar makes baby Jesus cry, or an ad linking the candidate to high quality T&A. Why should there be?

It's a damn sight wittier than the standard ads that say "My opponent raised taxes, and will raise them again" in a dull Voice-of-Doom monotone with scrolling text against a B&W still photo of the offending politician.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:36 AM on July 7, 2004

What is to stop someone from crafting a "Day After Tomorrow" scenario to take down a candidate who is environmentally unfriendly, or at another extreme, flesh eating zombie foetuses coming back to live to haunt a pro choice candidate?

The law of defamation?
posted by dmt at 8:50 AM on July 7, 2004

It's true that the attack ad has become a parody of itself, but I'm not sure why this is "better". Distortion is distortion, and using cutesy gimmicks to overemphasize a point is still pretty indecent. And yes, there was that anti-Bush ad that used a Bush impersonator in its voice over. I thought that was every bit as low.

I wouldn't mind it if all attack ads were banned, given the complete lack of self-control and common decency that campaign wonks demonstrate year after year. Not sure who would get to decided what constituted an attack ad, but hey, it's something nice to think about.
posted by psmealey at 10:10 AM on July 7, 2004

Are we seeing the same ad? A bunch of revenue guys with a vacuum cleaner sucking money out of someone's house? Unless you're against the implied suctioning of cats, I have a hard time seeing that ad as violent and low.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2004

I've often wondered why there isn't more humor in political ads. I personally would love it if the Dems would stop tiptoeing around the fact that most people are casting their vote this year for "NotBush". If I was in charge, the ads would be deadpan humorous along the lines of: "This is John Kerry. He's not George Bush. That's pretty much it. Did you want to know more than that? Yeah, figured not."
posted by Shoeburyness at 1:50 AM on July 8, 2004

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