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Americans: This is Your Future Leader Speaking…

As trite as it may be to discuss Barack Obama’s big brother-esque, domination of television last night, it was somewhat of a unique scenario, and hence, worthy of a couple of paragraphs of thought. The ad, which ran on NBC, … Read More

By / October 30, 2008

As trite as it may be to discuss Barack Obama’s big brother-esque, domination of television last night, it was somewhat of a unique scenario, and hence, worthy of a couple of paragraphs of thought. The ad, which ran on NBC, FOX and CBS and was the first such barrage since third-party candidate and perennial punchline Ross Perot pulled a similar stunt in 1992, differed very little from any other infomercial, with the future president of the United States serving as the product being hawked, rather than knives that can cut through larger knives or exotic spices from the Orient once only available to the wealthiest Venetian nobility. While the TV spot garnered solid ratings, beating out an episode of Pushing Daisies in which the character Ned was startled to meet a mysterious man claiming to be an old friend and associate of his father, the significance of the ad probably derives more from anticipation rather than the event itself. As the old idiom goes, "Any publicity is good publicity," and I assume that’s exactly what the Obama campaign had in mind when they formulated the plans for last night’s spot. As the Internet continues to swell with bloggers, forums and other user-driven information portals, television is still dominated by a select few targets for viewer attention. And while the Internet will one day surpass television as the central method of communication from event to public, every household, tavern and waiting room in America still has a TV set, and a single broadcast being shown across three of the four networks that are available for free on every one of those televisions generates that buzz that is so valuable to anyone that wants your attention. The advertisement itself was disappointing, featuring little more than standard-issue "I remember meeting a woman in Iowa whose son is stationed in Iraq…." and Joe the Plumber-style hackery that foams from the mouths of Diamond Joe Quimby and his real-life ilk. The spot’s target audience was well defined, with shot after shot of Obama shaking hands and trading hugs with middle-aged and elderly white people in town halls and Applebee’s parking lots, with nary a single image of the candidate strolling down Canal Street or Massachusetts Avenue. Way funnier than anything featured in the Obama infomercial was clearly the McCain-Palin ad that ran during the first commercial break on FOX’s coverage of Game 5 of the World Series. The ad, a scathing denouncement of Obama’s political experience, closed with raspy-voiced narrator supplementing the on-screen text, "Barack Obama is not ready to be president…Yet." What does the Republican party have to gain by implying that Barack Obama will one day be an able presidential candidate? Additionally, what are they thinking by playing the experience card in the face of the debacle that has been running with the governor of Alaska as their vice-presidential nominee? Politics is stupid.

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