Politically Incorrect: How Much Political Advertising Can We Take?

A Solution to the Tsunami of TV Ads

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Marc Brownstein
Marc Brownstein
Ah, I just love mid-term elections. When else can a guy put his TV remote control into overdrive to avoid the relentless barrage of TV commercials from candidates on all sides? Thing is, it is almost unavoidable.

The politicians' media-buying folks have the local news covered. Last night, I counted three out of every four commercials as a political ad. Really? In fact, I was told one of Philly's local TV stations temporarily created a 5 a.m. newscast just so it could air the huge volume of political ads they'd sold. Then I turned on some of my favorite TV shows -- there they were again, like cockroaches, you can't get rid of 'em! And I'm not alone: my wife has openly complained about the non-stop onslaught of Donkeys vs. Elephants versus Tea Leaves. So have my kids. And my friends. And colleagues at work. I don't know if it's me, but I am hearing more push-back about political advertising this year than I can ever recall.

Well, it shouldn't be surprising-- most of the ads suck. They are formulaic. Mean spirited. And reactive. He-said this. And she-said that. Who the heck can remember what he or she said -- and who really cares?

But we should care. We should be able to hear the various candidates' messages. We should want to pay attention to the commercials, and not flip the channels or throw things at the TV screen. We've got problems in this country and we need to be involved in who we elect to office.

So what's the solution? I propose that the politicians stop using the political-specialty ad agencies that stamp out these cookie-cutter campaigns, and do what Ronald Reagan (Hal Riney) and Bill Clinton (Donny Deutsch) did and hire some ad agencies that will actually do good work. And truly differentiate one candidate from the next. It seems so basic, yet most candidates for office take the tried-and-true route and hire the folks that know how to create a good ole' fashioned attack--instead of a unique story, and a clear reason to earn someone's vote. There are plenty of small agencies that would take on a candidate for the chance to do original work, and put the right person in office. So, candidates, whaddya say, next election season bring a creative shop on the campaign trail with you. You will be doing a public service to both your campaign and those who have to watch your commercials.

I'm Marc Brownstein and I approved this message.

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