Ad Space – Herman Cain vs. Cute Animals

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Herman Cain and his “Sick of Stimulus” policies

The Promotions:

The Pitch:
No, we didn’t actually kill those animals. Are there any other questions?

Well, I teased it last week, so I guess I gotta follow through on it now. We are diving headfirst, folks, into the seediest nebulae in all of Ad Space: the political campaign ad.

These particular ads were commissioned by American politician Herman Cain during their (unsuccessful) bid to become the Republican nominee for President in 2012. Now, while I expect the comments will delve into the politics of Herman Cain and the anti-stimulus policies they tout here, that’s not what I’m particularly interested in. These are decade-old ads for a failed campaign by a politician who is no longer among the living, and their message is so simple and over-generalized, there’s not really much to dissect.

But the way these ads go about delivering that message … Whoa Nellie! This is some messed up s***!

I mean, okay, that rabbit being shot and catapulted was obviously special effects, and they could probably have scooped up that goldfish and put it back in its bowl before it asphyxiated. Still, though, if the audience needs to remind themselves that this is all fake, then you’ve made a fatal error.

Because you’re clearly expecting viewers to like these cute little pets, to want to see them safe and protected. That’s the whole point of the ad, for these critters to represent the things you, as a politician, are promising to protect, while the people shooting, drowning, or catapulting them represent your political opponents. But if, by vividly depicting these animals’ deaths, you cause viewers, even for a moment, to think you actually killed these animals to make your commercial … that’s the exact reverse opposite of what you want to happen.

After more than a second or two of thought, people might realize the animals were fine (and even if they weren’t … well, where do you think fish and rabbit meat come from?) But advertising is often all about creating associations in people’s heads, and after ads like this? What people associate with you will be the wanton murder of all that is adorable and helpless. Not a good look on someone who’s asking for America’s nuclear launch codes.

Plus, y’know, they’re a blatant ripoff of the “This Is Your Brain On Drugs” commercial: