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The Political Ad Watch weighs in on just how effective is the "most lethal TV ad ever produced in Florida politics"

By on July 18, 2012

This is the most lethal TV ad I’ve ever seen in Florida politics. Period.

The launch of this ad — and an accompanying website at BrodskyLetWalkerGo — has shaken up the race for State Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit, which pits Republicans Ed Brodsky and Peter Lombardo in the primary for a chance to challenge Democrat John Torraco in November’s general election. Longtime incumbent Earl Moreland is retiring.

I’ve asked members of our Political Ad Club to weigh in on just how effective is this spot.

Gregory Wilson responded almost immediately:

Peter, I wish you had not described this commercial to me as “The most lethal TV ad I’ve ever seen in Florida politics.” I was immediately curious, of course, and immediately impressed with the concept and production. There’s no denying the impact. And yet I found myself waiting for a “lethal closing” that didn’t happen.

Turns out the close I was waiting for was the same as the opening: “Ed Brodsky was responsible for my husband’s death.”
It’s like the producer ran out of material and decided to repeat himself.
This is the kind of commercial political ad producers dream of making. Real. Visceral. And supportable. The story is compelling, and I was immediately sympathetic to the woman’s loss.
So why give up the ending before you tell the story? All the “evidence” was there to line up and present in correct order, culminating with abruptly ending the music, getting the production out of the way, and letting the emotion of the unfortunate woman’s words serve clearly as the indictment this commercial should have been.
Wait. What? You already said that. Is that it? No, don’t make people think. Tell them not to elect this creep!
Damaging to Brodsky’s campaign? Yes, of course. And if there are more spots like this to follow, Brodsky’s campaign will be in real trouble. But this spot is arguably under-thought and over-produced. A serious chest wound that could have been a head shot. Given the obvious talent behind this production, I find that unforgivable.

“Guest” member Ryan Banfill posted on my Facebook page:

This ad reminds me of the 1994 ad on the death penalty that the Bush campaign ran against Chiles. That ad backfired on the Bush campaign that year. (Watch that ad here.)

Dave Trotter was fairly succinct:

I’m sure I am not the only one thinking Willie Horton, but that is exactly what this is. There are some ads that are fishy, but then there are some ads that kick someone right in the balls. This is one of those ads. Of course, when people vote, this will stick in their head.

Negatives always stick in people’s heads more than positives. Take Chelsey Sullenberger. He is now known as “that guy that landed the plane in the river” more than by his actual name. On the other hand, people will always remember the name Jerry Sandusky. Negative ads stick in people’s head more and are way more effective that positive ones, especially in state and local races where 85% of the electorate have no idea who is running in those races anyway.

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