February 23, 2012

This is a great ad!

It is a negative attack ad disguised as an attack on attack ads!

For me this ad works because of the sense of humour. A good sense of humour can compensate for a lot of faults; in fact it is how a lot of men get women.

Santorum is able to pound Romney for being negative yet at the same time sink his own message on Romney…Obamacare, cap and trade.

I would suggest that this is the way to go if you want to defend yourself.


Saint vs Devil

February 22, 2012

I talked the other day about winning the battle but losing the war, I believe this is an example of heading in that direction.

Republicans demonize Obama..they just do, the hate is visceral. It is almost as bad as the left got about George Bush, that is almost as bad as the hate the right had for Bill Clinton. As someone who was involved in politics for a long time I understand where the anger comes from and have at times shared it. I look at the hate that the left has for Stephen Harper in Canada right now and I see some very close parallels. Going to the Sun or National Post message boards these days gives you a clear look at the serious hate that the right has for the left in Canada.

This stuff is great… when you want to raise money and mobilize the base. I think it kills you in elections.

This brings us to this little nugget by Rick Santorum.

Santorum is demonizing Mitt Romney by comparing him to the actual devil Barack Obama.
Fine, this plays into all the concerns that the Republican base has about Romney and may help Santorum win the nomination.

Yet Santorum, if he should win the nomination, has a problem. The independents that he will need to capture the presidency voted for Obama last time and as disappointed as they may be in Obama they do not think he is the devil.

Will stuff like this hurt Santorum if he is the nominee, I would think so. Can he win the nomination, I would be surprised. Will he continue to cause Romney grief, yep.

People do not like being told they made a mistake.

Is hate the best way to win? Well it has worked for lots of people but I want to avoid invoking Godwin’s law so……

On June 8th 2010 Carly Fiorina beat Tom Campbell to win the Republican primary in the California senate election, earning her the right to be beaten by Barbara Boxer in the general election in November. Fiorina was a Republican darling, the first woman to head a fortune 20 company and a huge booster of John McCain and Sarah Palin; she had headed the republican fundraising committee and spoke often at campaign events.

Fiorina has a long and successful career with much to be admired yet she will perhaps be best remembered for her campaign video attacking Tom Campbell. A deliberate attempt to be provocative and create something that would go “viral” this ad achieved the goal of going viral all right. Yet it can be argued that the video was one of the reasons that Fiorina was defeated in the general.

This ad is interesting in that it is an early sign of some of the problems the GOP is having now. The split between pure conservatives and more, shall we say, pragmatic conservatives. This split has led to the rise of the tea party movement and is making it very hard for Mitt Romney to win the GOP nomination.

Take a look…

This was the first time many people saw the term RINO (republican in name only) and FCNO (fiscal conservative in name only). It foreshadowed the right wing split and it was one of the first successful viral campaign videos. The problem is it is hard to tell how serious it is. You could easily imagine seeing it as a fake commercial during Saturday Night Live. It has all the stereotypes, deep male voice with scary music.

It also froze Fiorina into a hard right position, making it difficult for her to soften her stance in the general and appear more moderate. In California that makes it very hard for a Republican to win. She won the battle but that may have cost her the war.

Jon Huntsman’s path to nowhere

Are we past the time when smart people do well in politics?

It is a question on my mind a lot lately. When someone like Newt Gingrich passes for the intellectual in the US primary season and Rob Ford becomes mayor f Toronto you have to wonder. Sure people will point closer to home and say the success of Naheed Nenshi as mayor or even Allison Redford as premier proves the opposite, that ideas and clear eyed thinking and intellectual horsepower can still win. Yet I can’t help think that we are a time when people are looking for someone they can relate to as a political leader. The occupy movement and the tea party are examples of regular people not having any faith in “elites” any more. This squeezing from the periphery may gain more and more traction. Then again it may all just be that the most recent campaign I was looking at was just so poor that the guy did not have a chance.

Jon Huntsman entered the republican primary season lauded by all the talking heads in the media. He was a former governor, an ambassador, a millionaire and just an all around high achiever but his campaign never got off the ground, at a time when you would think the republicans would want someone who could stand toe to toe with Obama, Jon Huntsman never showed the horsepower to do so.

It started badly, with this….

This has got to be one of the worst launch videos I have ever seen. Just for the visual metaphor alone, a motor bike wandering in the desert for over 3 minutes. The random words thrown up to imprint the message, yet seemingly without rhyme or reason. This launch video had Rachel Maddow picking on it within hours of release. There is no call to action; in fact it seems like a deliberate attempt to be quiet and subtle. Or else it is just a weird, weird thought process.

Then there was this:

Done by a PAC supporting Huntsman, a PAC that was mostly funded by Huntsman`s father, who Huntsman had said would be funding his campaign, it is an attack ad that seems to be going through the motions.

As is this one.

I mean, did Huntsman think Paul was his main competition?

What you see in these 3 ads is a campaign lacking a few things, but mainly passion and drive. A campaign that feels run by technocrats. Sure Huntsman had his daughters do a few fun You Tube videos, but the campaign as a whole never had any kind of fire to it.

Ultimately he was Mitt Romney without the fun.

This shows that campaigns in the end, need to inspire, Huntsman never did.

Earning your Good Luck.

January 31, 2012

So this is a little gem.

A Nigerian political ad by Goodluck Jonathan of the Nigerian Peoples Democratic Party.

Goodluck Jonathan is the current president of Nigeria he originally was the VP and replaced the sitting president when he became ill. Jonathan is a PHD (they can win Elections!) but he presents very much as a man of the people. I think the image presented here is far from the distant ivory tower academic. Instead we are seeing a legitimate man of the people, who shares aspirations and origins. Jonathan was the first Nigerian to announce his campaign for president over social media using his very active facebook page to do it.
The production quality on this ad is pretty good, and the content is terrific. Having the man of the street (mos) repeat the parts of the speech has been used before but in this context it seems to work really well, it creates a bond between the people and the leader, it makes you believe. This is just a terrific ad and it shows the other side of political ads. Ads that uplift, that bring people together. Obama had some great ads like this. The ad works really well.
I think these days in Canada there is a market for some ads like this, will we see them?

This is interesting. Newt Gingrich going hard on abortion. In Canada we tend to think that the abortion wars are over. Personally I think we are wrong. I know of some conservative groups working hard to bring abortion back into play in Canada, especially in Alberta. They have been working behind the scenes for the last couple of years to bring abortion back to the front of the stove. We have started to see it happening with some of the federal Tory MP’s. I think we will see it rise up in the next provincial election to the intense discomfort of Danielle Smith.

In any case, this ad, Gingrich is riding high, Romney is perhaps in trouble with the conservative base who have never warmed to him and so Gingrich wants that base. This ad helped Gingrich win South Carolina and you can see the tactic clearly.

Turning Mitt Romney into John Kerry.

A Massachusetts moderate in the US is code for a BIG liberal. Interestingly enough in Canada it works as well, think of our very own Massachusetts moderate a certain, Harvard Professor. If we look at this kind of class warfare we can see that the Liberals have been on the losing end of this battle for a long time. The battle comes down to Elite versus Common and the right has been very good at playing this kind of war. Liberals are really, really bad at it.

We could spend hours talking about the irony of Gingrich posing as a Reagan conservative given his history of criticizing Reagan and given his own personal history, but that seems a waste of time, is this a good ad?

I think the ad is well done, good PQ (Production Quality), nice messaging. I think it frames Romney in a bad way, no matter your position on abortion. It frames him as someone not true to his roots, not true to who his supporters are, not true to the image he is trying to create. I think it really hurts Romney, not just in the primaries but in the general as well. This stuff will really turn off pro-choice independents in the states, people that Romney will really need if he goes against Obama. Gingrich runs the risk of a scorched earth situation that will damage anyone who wins the nomination. Unless as the anti-abortion people hope, the wheel has turned.

When winners quit because they won and losers never quit how long does it take for those positions to flip?

The Obama fights back.

January 19, 2012

The Obama re-election campaign released their first TV ad of the election today and it is interesting, at least to me, mostly because of the topic, Energy. The ad comes out the day after Obama cancelled the Keystone pipeline.  It is well made, glossy and expensive. It follows a standard script for a defensive ad, attack the people making claims, damage their credibility and buttress your own with facts about what you have done.

He is trying to use the position of the presidency in this ad, position himself with the common people (perhaps keeping the occupy movement in mind) and tie himself to progressivism and environmentalism.  I understand the ad will be running in 6 states.

Fact Checker blog at The Washington Post gave this a 3 Pinocchio rating which they think means it has no outright lies in it but has some substantial misrepresentations of the truth.

I am curious that Obama is putting out stuff that is slipshod so early; it also means they did not have the Keystone decision a long long time ago as the ad was obviously rushed. It also means they are worried about cancelling the pipeline and how much damage they will take from it.

From my viewpoint I find the ad pretty standard stuff. No one really worries about the facts in an ad too much when they watch it, if it seems credible then it works. The fact that Obama has nothing to do with the % of domestic fuel or that the 2.7 million clean energy jobs are only theoretical will not kill him. What will kill him is that the ad just doesn’t do much. The campaign has had 2 years to get some killer Obama the Great President stuff together and the best they have is to kick off with this thing.

Obama had better seriously amp up his game if he wants to go toe to toe with the GOP ad machine.

The Big Dig

January 17, 2012

I love political ads. They can reveal so much about the country, the candidates and especially the voters. Most ads are tested and focused group beyond belief, they generally capture the zeitgeist of a particular time and place. They show what candidates want people to care about, what people should care about and occasionally what people do care about. Sometimes they are just a lot of fun.

This is one of my all time favourite political ads mostly because it breaks with tradition so much. Animated, humorous, tongue in cheek, and long, I am not sure what the rules are on a good political ad but I imagine this breaks most of them. Most of the times humour is accidental in political ads (pads maybe?) but this is one where the ad really tries to be funny.

A little context: Christy Mihos was an independent candidate in the 2006 Massachusetts gubernatorial election. Nominally Republican he decided to go independent as he was not too popular with the Republican Party and was not renewed on the Massachusetts turnpike authority when his term expired by then Governor Mitt Romney.  The Big Dig was a redevelopment project around Boston Harbour that was the largest highway project in the US, coming in a year late and costing 14 billion dollars, 8 Billion over budget.

Mihos never polled over 20% in the race and he came in with 6.97% in the election which was noted for being really really dirty and racially divisive.

So the ad stirred up controversy but may not have done much good in the election, then again 7% is pretty good for an independent in the states.


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