Thursday, September 21, 2006

Kennedy's radio ads are excellent

Posted by Craig Westover | 7:41 AM |  

Negative advertising is defended as necessary to define the opposition. That's a valid point, but it still must be done well. Too much of it comes off as simply childish whining and petulance. Nonetheless, negative advertising can be done well, and Mark Kennedy's two radio ads do it well.

The content of Kennedy's radio ads aren't any different from his daily grind of Amy Klobuchar criticism, which in his press releases and television ad comes across as trivial, personal and mean. They make him look like the desperate candidate, not a winner.

His radio ads, on the other hand, do a great job defining Klobuchar. Structured like a obnoxious automated phone answering system -- this one at “Amy Klobucahr for Senate Hotline” -- the ads come across like a joke told across the bar, humor shared among friends, rather than personal attacks. And like all good humor, the ads are funny because they contain a grain of truth. And it helps that everyone hates phone trees.

In one ad the caller is warned to listen to the menu “as some of Amy‘s positions may have changed.” The caller/listener is then asked to choose between options like “if you think big oil is evil, press 1”; “if you agree with Amy that big oil is a great investment, press 2.”

For what they are, commercials defining Klobuchar, the Kennedy radio ads are excellent. From a broader campaign perspective, I doubt Kennedy’s campaign will maximize their effectiveness.

Rather than repeating his attacks on Klobuchar in other media (although I like the phone tree idea so much I’d like to see it turned into a television ad to replace that God-awful attack ad running now), the Kennedy campaign should soften its criticism and point out that Klobuchar’s contradictions are not necessarily personal flaws, but flaws in Democrat policy.

Politically, Democrats feel they have to rail against “Big Oil,” which at a price-per-gallon competitive with price of a gallon of milk, fuels the nation. Yet when it comes to making personal decisions that affect the welfare of their families, Klobuchar and Democrats make the same decisions the rest of us do -- they invest their money where it garners the greatest return. Amy isn’t evil and she’s not even really a hypocrite. She’s a Democrat, and the conflict between her policies and her personal actions show that in the real world we live in, Democrat policies are unworkable.

If Kennedy took that route, he’d come off less mean, more positive, and actually be adding some substance to the debate. Unfortunately, it may be a little late for that metamorphsis.