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Hillary’s Ads

April 10, 2008

I’ve always found political advertising pretty fascinating, and the a few have been quite interesting or effective this year. Of those, I think Clinton has generally had more memorable ads. The “3 a.m.” is certainly the most remembered ad of the year, both in the number of parodies it’s spawned, and the other campaigns responses to it. It’s easy to say it’s melodramatic and discount it, but I think that for every 2 people who scoff at it as an attempt to play the fear card, there was someone who may not have been frightened, but may have been primed on the issue of national security and who can face threats. It’s not to say that suddenly someone is convinced that Clinton is more qualified because of the ad, just that when the evaluate the candidate that is one of the frames they’ll do it in. Given Clinton’s ties to the Clinton administration and facing “sniper fire” which was, at the time, not refuted, people felt Hillary could face the threat. She played the card, and ultimately–I think–played it well for the contests she was in (OH and TX). Now, that ad would not carry the same weight as doubts have been raised as to her experience and the fact that it’s no longer a new concept.

However, I think this ad is also one of Clinton’s better and more effective. It is gimmicky when she says things like “Hi, if you’re looking for a typical political commercial, switch the channel…” and “thanks, it’s nice talking to you….” but the overall message of the ad is engaging the voter and bringing them into the process. This has been one of the things that Obama has been remarkable effective in–both online and though his speeches, and in a month of political message bombardment, this stops and catches the viewer. It’s like when a stranger unexpectedly asks you how you are–you don’t expect them to become your best friend, but the gesture is nice. Moments when she shows she cares and demonstrates her actual interest in people has been when she’s most successful in elections. It’ll be interesting to see the follow up to this ad.

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