Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Hottest Ticket in Town


The Ad: Sam Page for Lieutenant Governor

The Message: Some of Kinder's actions are so wrong, they're laughable.

In the slew of political ads hitting television screens right now, this one stands out. Why? It's superb use of humor. My co-workers notice it. "That's funny," said one producer heading out of the control room. A lady at the YMCA even stopped me to ask about it. "Who did they get to play the smokers,?" she asked with a chuckle. The workers in the office smoking. The bike race with workers shaking their heads on the sidelines. The Kinder pick-up truck with the overdone signs plastered all over the side. These are all effective ways of calling into question some of the Lieutenant Governor's decisions -- in a funny way. The music is perfect because it keeps the pace, in an upbeat yet slightly ominous way. For me, this ad sits up there with Sarah Steelman's "Orville & Ed," as far as being one of the best in the cycle. Lots of ads are doing the ominous, "my opponent is scary," right now. That's why this one is standing out to people. It's not harsh. It's not mean. It playfully gets the point across. You make 'em laugh, and then they start to wonder, "Maybe it was kind of silly to spend so much money on a bike race when our economy is tanking?."

The Ad: Peter Kinder for Lieutenant Governor

The Message: Kinder created jobs, while Page tried to kill them.

This ad is a simple textbook contrast ad, with a laser-like focus on the economy. While Page mocked Kinder's "Tour of Missouri," in his ad, this ad highlights $500 million in tourism dollars. Though it's worth noting that the bike race isn't referred to or shown in the ad. It then lists the Quality Jobs Act, that Kinder supported, which created "thousands of jobs." It doesn't take more than 12 seconds of the 30-second spot for the campaign to begin showing a shifting grainy shot of Sam Page. The visual of Page almost is more important than the message. The pictures they chose make Page look shifty and uncertain. These shots play under the female voice, noting that Page opposed "funding" the Quality Jobs Act while favoring "job-killing taxes." But notice how Page is looking down or away from the camera in all the shots. That's meant to convey a level of disconnect and discomfort with the viewer. Still, with lots of regular people this ad will get lost in the host of other "scary" ads being run out there right now.

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