First Nationwide Presidential Candidate Ad to Hit Air

It's Not Who You Think

By Published on .

Susie hits the trail.
Susie hits the trail. Credit: CDF
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And the first presidential candidate to turn out a national TV spot this year? She's the creation of a special-interest group and she's got no chance of winning. It's ten-year-old Susie Flynn.

It's not her real name, of course. And she undoubtedly has a life outside of, and entries on Facebook, six 30-second TV spots Youtube (soon to break on CNN) and MySpace. Heck, she's not even old enough to run, much less win. And even George Pataki got the message (slowly, eventually) that there are better things to do with millions of dollars than waste them on an obviously lost cause.

But Susie's cause is providing a voice for the 9 million children without health insurance in the U.S. (we're assuming that considering SAG regulations and child-labor laws, she's pretty much set). The Susie Flynn campaign is an effort for Children's Defense Fund and was created by Minneapolis-based Fallon in what smacks of a well-timed publicity stunt aimed at getting buzz in an election cycle that promises to have healthcare near the top of the agenda.

But Out of Site asks: Why not seek out the real stories of children without health insurance and make them the centerpiece of what appears to be a pretty hefty media spend?

Instead of "Elect Susie," how about "Insure Isherion?" A real story with a real child's name about an actual healthcare crisis told on a link on Susie's campaign site. Displaced by Katrina, Isherion's mother was once gainfully employed, but isn't now and isn't receiving Medicaid yet. Her daughter Isherion needs ongoing medical care because she has a "ventriculoperitoneal shunt placed in her head to relieve intracranial pressure caused by an abnormality called hydrocephalus, a condition she has had since birth.

"The shunt is surgically inserted into the brain through the skull to drain cerebrospinal fluid from the ventricles of the brain into the abdominal cavity," according to the site.

With an electorate eager for authenticity and most Americans having at least one nightmare healthcare story themselves, the "Elect Susie" campaign might just wind up being dismissed as too contrived. Isherion's story, on the other hand, is a hard one to dismiss.