Month: October 2008

The rat behind the rat

Or, politics and advertising

About a year and a half into college at UT I switched majors from history to advertising. It was tough decision to make – I loved my classes and I was starting to move into courses far more interesting than the introductory classes we all go through. But, after much thought, I decided to do something I loved just as much with the added benefit (so I thought) of being more practical – writing. As it turns out, getting into the field as a junior copywriter wasn’t nearly as much of a sure thing as I thought, but that’s a story for another day. It was during one of my advertising courses, Advertising and Ethics, that I think I really started to pay attention to politics and candidates.

Contrary to what most believe, advertising is pretty heavily regulated. It seems otherwise with all the really, really bad advertising out there but, unfortunately, ads that just plain suck don’t fall within the purview of that regulation. One of the greats in the field, David Ogilvy, once wrote this: “The consumer is not a moron. She is your wife.” Most bad advertising has forgotten that bit of wisdom.

At any rate, in addition to the Federal Trade Commission there are countless professional and consumer watch-groups that work to ensure ads are truthful. And, for the most part, they’re pretty successful at it.

But that’s commercial advertising; political ads are a different animal altogether.

Political ads, for reasons passing understanding, qualify as free speech. Meaning they’re constitutionally protected to make whatever crazy-ass, fetched, unproven, or even dishonest claim they want and there’s absolutely nothing to stop them.

What would you think about a Ford ad where the spokesman told you the checmical makeup of the paint used on Hondas causes cancer? How about an ad that informs you Diet Coke increases your IQ? And yet, every election cycle we watch politicians make promises they have no intention of keeping or tell lies they know to be false.

Peggy Drexler has a great article about this subject you can find here. Check it out.

So, what’s worse than a lie, an empty promise, or a baseless attack from these politicians in their ads? I give you subliminal advertising. Below is an ad attacking Al Gore during the 2000 election. Watch carefully. If you miss it, watch again and pause at second 25.

The irony is subliminal ads just don’t work. But that’s not the point. This is the kind of man America put in the White house. Twice.  

A little comedy from Ron Howard, part two

First, Ahmnodt, thanks for the comment. It was interesting enough I did a little research. For those that didn’t see it, Ahmnodt commented about how many Repbulicans were previously celebs compared to Democrats. What I’ve found so far is this:

Republican
Alan Autry – (actor) Mayor
Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum – (circus) Mayor, State legislator 
Shirley Temple Black – (actress) Ambassador 
Sonny Bono – (singer) Mayor, Congress 
Jim Bunning – (baseball) Senator
Fred Grandy – (actor) Congress 
Jack Kemp – (Football) congress, VP candidate 
Steve Largent – (football) Congress
George Murphy -(dancer/actor) Senator
Tom Osborne – (football player/coach) Congress
Ronald Reagan – (actor) Governor, President 
Jim Ryun – (runner) congress
Arnold Schwarzenegger – (actor) governor.
Fred Thompson – (actor) Senator
J.C. Watts – (Football) Congress

Democratic 
Bill Bradley – (basketball) Senator
John Glenn – (astronaut) Senator
Ben Jones – (actor) Congress
Sheila Kuehl -(actress) Senator
Tom McMillan – (basketball) Congress
Ralph Waite – (actor) Congress
Jerry Springer (talk show host) Mayor
Al Franken – (Currently running for Senate)
Stephen Peace – (Writer and producer) Senator
Helen Gahagan – (actress) Congress

Other 
Clint Eastwood – (actor) Libertarian – Mayor
Jesse (The Body) Ventura-Reform -Governor

So, clearly more Repbulicans than Democrats, but not as much of a disparity as I would have thought. Thanks again, Ahmnodt!

A difference in expectations, addendum

So, there seems to be a bit of confusion with the last couple of posts. Because a good friend of mine took me to task for my lack of clarity I thought I’d make a quick post rather than continuing the comment thread.

While it quickly became political, the real point of the two posts was simply an observation about how the goals of these two groups seem to differ and how clear that difference was when I had the chance to attend both functions. 

The secondary thought was more of question – how do these goals impact a parent’s politics? In this election, as Ron quite correctly pointed out, the difference isn’t as clear as it normally is. Senator McCain has voted for additional funding for research and has sent a written request to President Bush to lift restrictions on funding for embryonic stem cell reserach. And, he’s done both counter to his party’s platform.

But…

I think we all remember the about-face former President Clinton did when it came to his campaign promise of lifting the ban on gays in the military. Perhaps not quite a bait and switch; President Clinton certainly didn’t deliver on his promise. Don’t ask, don’t tell, indeed.

If Senator McCain is elected, what will he do? Keep his promise or fold under the weight of his party and his base? If the Senator is the kind of man I think he is, my bet is on the former. Governor Palin, on the other hand, is a different story entirely.  

A difference in expectations, part two

Two great kids, one with diabetes and the other with Down syndrome, and it’s an election year. What’s the relevance, you ask? Consider:

Last weekend we joined our friends and family for the annual Buddy Walk. It’s an event designed to “promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome” and it’s quite an affair. Musicians, eating, playing, raffles, auctions, and on. Not to mention the actual mile or so walk. It’s a huge event that lasted well over three hours with an almost unimaginable amount of prep work beforehand for sponsors, catering, and so on.

It was also a really good time. The walk took place at a local facility called Reunion Ranchin Georgetown. A large, wooded area with tons of playscapes, trails, and water activities; it was absolutely perfect.

A few weeks before the that, we were at another event for JDRF Austin. Also a walk, this event focused on food, fun, and fund-raising in an effort to combat juvenile diabetes. The location wasn’t nearly as cool as the Buddy Walk, but it was a great time, too.

The interesting thing is this: While the Buddy Walk was all about hanging out, having a good time, and getting the kids and up with DS involved and interactive, the JDRF walk was all about finding a cure.

Community vs. activism.

Clearly, it’s much more complex than I’ve broken down above, but when you consider the silver bullet of research for diabetes could be stem cells, how does that impact votes? My family wore a shirt with “Vote for the Cure” on the back, so no surprise which button we’ll push on election day, but what does the Repbulican with a son or daughter who has diabetes do? How do they vote?

A difference in expectations, part one

I’ve heard that new parents (I qualify) often don’t understand or connect well with kids older than their own; if it’s their first. I get it. I have a niece and a nephew and they do things all the time I just can’t wrap my mind around.

Clearly, that lack of understanding is on my part. They’re both just kids being kids at an age I haven’t been up close and personal with just yet. Doubtless, once my daughter turns the corner on those ages I’m going to think, A-ha, now I get it. Wow. So that’s what this is about. But for now, I’m left sometimes scratching my head.

My nephew is a phenomenal kid named Ethan. He’s seven, a boy in every sense of the word, and aside from one challenge I’ll mention shortly, he’s the luckiest kid I know. He has two parents, a sister, and an extended family who absolutely adore him, he’s (sometimes irritatingly) incredibly bright, genuinely funny, and has a world of possibilities ahead of him.

He also has type 1 diabetes.

Next: My wife and I are good friends with another couple, J and R, who have a daughter roughly the age of our own named Sidney. She’s a sweet, loving little girl who never tires of giving kisses and hugs. And for a dad whose daughter is an Einstein at signing “all done” when I give her kisses, Sidney’s unwavering affection is a joy.

She also has down syndrome.

Next post I’ll get to the point, but for now, if you’d like to learn more about juvenile diabetesdown syndrome, or how to help, just follow the links.