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WASHINGTON-Negative political ads often are effective in gaining public office, but there's growing concern that they also may be effective in turning off the public from all advertising.

Although sentiment remains divided, some leading agency executives believe their lives-and the business lives of their clients-are suffering from a "spillover" effect from the negative environment created by nasty 30-second political bombs.

"Political advertising affects any advertising that is running on TV at the same time," said Sean Fitzpatrick, vice chairman-North America, McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

"If your client has ads on the air during the last week of the campaign season, the ads won't be heard because the political spots will block them out," Mr. Fitzpatrick said. "And I think they encourage from the consuming public a strong disrespect for advertising across the board."

Rich Silverstein, partner, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, sees a carryover from negative political ads to his business that he's not happy with.

"The whole [ad] industry looks bad, really bad" because of negative political commercials, Mr. Silverstein said. "It's the worst of what a TV commercial can do ... sound-bite manipulation. Advertising people often are criticized for being overly slick. We don't need this additional bad publicity."

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