From Hamburger-Hawking Aliens to 'Whack-a-Bush' Online Games

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- As election years and advertising go, 2004 is proving to be an unusually odd one.

Whether this is due to the general bitterness of the presidential contest, the earlier start of the always-harsh fall

Photo: AP
Vernon Robinson's campaign railed against Spanish-speaking aliens.
campaign ad efforts, or the reach and anything-goes impact of the Web is not clear.

What is clear is that there are enough strange marketing messages flying about to suggest an outbreak of a new ailment we might think of as Political Oddity Resource Syndrome (PORS).


Vernon Robinson. One thing you can say about Mr. Robinson, who on Tuesday lost a bid for the GOP nomination for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Richard Burr, R-N.C., is his campaigns are never boring.

The ultra-conservative African-American candidate's TV and radio ads were so raw in their criticism of African-Americans and speakers of Spanish that they triggered charges that Mr. Robinson was a racist demagogue.

His Web site, www.vernonrobinson.com, proudly headlined a newspaper's suggestion that he was a black Jesse Helms, North Carolina's former ultra-conservative senator.

One of his ad deadpanned, "Vernon Robinson will tell all of America what he tells his own three children: Stay in school. Speak English. And get a job! Don't have children out of wedlock, don't take drugs, don't commit crime, and if you do, don't pull a Jesse Jackson and blame it on Whitey."

An virulently anti-Hispanic-immigration radio ad was set to the music of The Twilight Zone with a voice-over saying, "The aliens are here, but they didn't come in a spaceship. They've filled our criminal courtrooms and clogged our schools ... They sponge off the American taxpayer ... They've even taken over the DMV. These aliens commit heinous crimes ... You walk into a

The online Whack-a-Bush Game features President Bush popping up from poisonous industrial smokestacks.
McDonald's restaurant to order a Big Mac, and find to your horror that the employees don't speak English."

The commercial prompted former U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp to withdraw his support, and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee urged its followers to call up and express disgust en masse. Mr. Robinson lost the congressional runoff election, getting 45% of the vote to his opponent's 55%.

Whack-a-Bush Game. President Bush is the subject of one of the season's nastier online political games called "Whack a Bush." It depicts Mr. Bush cutting down trees with a chain saw, dropping barrels of oil in the ocean, popping out of factory smokestacks marked "Poison" and "OK."

The Environment 2004 Political Action Committee launched the game at whackabush.com. The object is to repeatedly hit a cartoon President Bush over the head with a newspaper as he pops up doing the anti-environmentally friendly things the environmental group alleges him to be guilty of.

The game was produced by @dvocacy Inc., headed by former Juno Advocacy Network executive Roger Alan Stone. It's the first game from his shop, but the election has produced a plethora of games on the Bush and Kerry campaign Web sites and on the sites of the Democratic and Republican parties and related support group Web sites.

Amy Christensen, executive director of the environmental group, said the group looked at the game as a way to increase traffic and public presence.

The Bush campaign had no comment

The Michael Moore Offensive. On the other side of the

Photo: AP
Is Michael Moore just a Democrat or the devil incarnate? the opposition promotions seemed to ask.
field, Republicans have turned at battery of whacking artillery on director Michael Moore, who, most would agree, is gleefully guilty of being one of Mr. Bush's most vitriolic public foes. Mr. Moore is the director who used the Academy Awards ceremony to denounce the Bush administration even before producing the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, a scathing attack on the president's handling of 9/11 and the current Iraq war.

During the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Committee bombarded the press corps with 10 "research briefings" about Mr. Moore.

Those 10 papers each included a past quote from Mr. Moore and a suggestion that reporters press Sen. Kerry to address each of the specific comments.

The 10 alleged comments were:

  • Michael Moore argued that bin Laden was innocent until proven guilty.

  • Michael Moore said there is no terrorist threat in this country.

  • Michael Moore said Americans are possibly the dumbest people on earth.

  • Michael Moore said U.S. should not have removed Taliban members from the U.S. after 9/11.

  • Michael Moore compared Iraqi terrorists to American Revolutionary War heroes.

  • Michael Moore downplayed the threat posed by the death of 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

  • Organizations linked to Hezbollah offered to distribute Michael Moore's film in the Middle East.

  • Michael Moore says America exports sadness and misery.

  • Michael Moore says Americans are ignorant.

  • Michael Moore travels to Europe, where he insults Americans in front of foreign audiences.

Jesus starred in a North Carolina print ad campaign.
Jesus and the Death Penalty. Speaking of Mr. Robinson's North Carolina, an unusual campaign was launched this year to influence the state legislature to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.

Supported by a six-figure ad buy, a group called the North Carolina Moratorium Now! rolled out a campaign (created by Republik, in Durham, N.C.) of radio spots and print ads featuring George Washington and Jesus Christ.

George Washington was quoted saying: "So what if a few innocent people get executed? Mistakes happen."

Jesus Christ was quoted saying: "Accidentally executing innocent people is the price society has to pay for justice."

The campaign wasn't exactly successful, because legislative leaders pulled the moratorium initiative before a vote could be taken.

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