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Why are political ads so awful?
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One of the great things about the recent election is we won't have to see another political commercial ... for at least two or three months. That's when the campaign ads for the 2016 election will begin.
CNN reports the two major parties spent $4 billion this year on Senate and House races, most of it on TV advertising. That doesn't count money spent on local contests.
Now let's just think: How many nonpolitical TV commercials have you seen in your life? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Yet you rarely see a car commercial that makes you angry, or an ad for a dishwashing liquid that makes you yell.
So why can't politicians make campaign commercials that don't leave us screaming at the TV?
Think of all the airline ads you've seen. They're all competing against one another, but they rarely mention the competition. Their ads are all pretty much the same: You see a plane flying, it lands in some beautiful Shangri-la -- a place you would love to visit if you had the money. Then a bunch of happy, smiling passengers get off the plane looking as if they had just stepped out of a relaxation booth.
You watch the ad, but you don't stand up and yell, "That's a lie! Those people just spent 10 hours on the tarmac and the toilets overflowed and not one of them is going to get their luggage! How can they get away with putting that kind of stuff on TV? There oughta be a law."
Since the biggest difference between most airlines is the color of the flight attendants' uniforms, you have to wonder why they advertise at all. You just buy the cheapest seat you can get.
How many fast-food commercials have you seen where the fast-food restaurant is spotless, and the staff is friendly and smart enough to make correct change? Yet we all know from experience that is stretching the truth.
Shampoo and beer commercials aren't really selling shampoo and beer. They're selling you a better life. Use this shampoo and men will fall at your feet; drink this beer and land a supermodel.
But political commercials aren't just annoying, they are offensive. Even to their supporters! Every time the guy I liked ran an ad, I would think, "Is that the best he can do? Nobody's going to fall for that garbage."
I figure if your commercial offends your supporters, you're doing it wrong.
Why don't politicians do what the airlines do? Show the candidate's plane flying through the air. It lands in a beautiful place -- the future -- where everyone has a high-paying job, no one pays any taxes, there are no potholes, cars run on used coffee grounds, stocks never go down, schoolteachers get paid like basketball players and basketball players get paid like teachers, lawyers don't file frivolous lawsuits, and CEOs give their employees a raise before they give one to themselves.
Wouldn't you want to buy some of that?
Contact Jim Mullen at