Monday, October 11, 2010

And the advertisers are more reviled than the politicians who hire them

Earlier today, you might have seen a post that I wrote that talked about politicians' self-loathing, and how they may be less popular than outbound telemarketers. Later that morning, I made the following comment on my Empoprise-BI Facebook page:

Of course, by the time this election season is over, "advertiser" will be more reviled than "politician."

Maybe we don't have to wait for the end of the election season for that to happen. Ramona, a commenter at David Allen's blog, is already sick of the ads. In a comment about this post, Ramona asked the following question of Mr. Allen:

Is there a code word I can enter into my television set to stop receiving all the political ads?

If anyone would know, I thought it would be you.

While I also have a high opinion of David Allen, it turns out he can't do everything.

Afraid not. If you find out the code word, be sure to let us know. (My personal solution is to not turn on my TV, but that wouldn't work for most people.)

Now I'll bet that someone is currently developing some technology to zap political ads. Let's face it, there are entire industries devoted to zapping ads in general - take, for example, the remote control that can fast forward a program in 30 second increments. And there are services that do the same thing for online ads (here's an example). Meanwhile, there are entire industries devoted to preventing us from zapping ads. For us older folks, the whole thing reminds us of the Cold War, the missile buildup, defensive measures such as the Strategic Defense Initiative (also called, to George Lucas' horror, "Star Wars"), and the best acronym of the 20th century, MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).

Which brings us to Steve Dahl - yes, THAT Steve Dahl - who has apparently left the world of disco demolition for a life as a columnist at the Chicago Tribune. And Dahl, being the opinionated sort, has this to say about the political ads we know and hate:

Campaign commercials are a windfall for radio and TV outlets. It's entirely possible to watch the evening news without seeing any commercials other than negative ads about local politicians. There are lots of allegations. Not paying taxes seems to be a hot topic. Often when someone prominent doesn't pay taxes, he or she has suffered a catastrophic financial setback. The implications in the ads are that they cheat. The more apt point might be that they don't even know what they are doing with their own money. I'd like to see each candidate screen his commercials in front of the others, followed by unlimited discussion in a public forum. Make them accountable at least for the ads they run.

Dahl then discusses particular Illinois ads. Since I'm blessed with only seeing the California ads, I don't know exactly what Dahl is referencing, but it sounds like Illinois ads are as slimy as the ones out here.

My favorite political commercial so far during this election season is the cartoon of Alexi Giannoulias driving his family and several others to the poor house. The ad is funded by American Crossroads, a Karl Rove brainchild. It compares letting your friends vote for Giannoulias to letting them drive drunk. For his part, Giannoulias calls Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk a liar every chance he gets. I would like to see Giannoulias animate something along the lines of "Pinocchio" to really drive the "Kirk is a liar" point home in matching cartoon style.

OK, I guess the California ads are slimier. There's been an ad running for at least a week now that shows Meg Whitman's nose growing.

But the truism that political ads make money for those who show them doesn't necessarily hold in the online world. Earlier this year, Technograph reported that Carlo Ople was blocking all political ads from his website. Ople:

I noticed that the CTR of my various sites went down over the past few months. I decided to observe for a week and I noticed that my blogs are being flooded by political ads. Not just from Manny Villar, but also from Bayani Fernando and Mark Jimenez. It looks like my site visitors are sick and tired already of politics to the point that they refuse to click them at all, hahaha!

Of course, television ads use a different payment formula, so the only way to reduce revenue for the stations is to follow David Allen's suggestion, not turn on your TV, and hope that enough people do so in the month before an election that the stations quit selling ads to politicians.

Or perhaps someone can start airing negative ads about the negative advertisers. I've written the script for one such ad already:

It's October! Look who's back in your home! It's the negative political advertisers!

Here they come with their outrageous claims about political opponents.

Isn't it enough to make you sick?

Well, just ignore those ads and listen to some positive advertising for a change!

(This message sponsored by the Coalition for Positive Thinking, a grass roots group of concerned citizens, with major funding from the Coca-Cola Company, Procter & Gamble, and the new General Motors.)
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