Advertisements Reflect the Candidate

Two advertisements were recently released by IL-5 candidates in their bid to win the Democratic primary.  Interestingly, both candidates’ messages – overt and subliminal – say a lot about the candidates themselves.

First, let’s start with Charlie Wheelan.  His latest political ad uses animation in an effort to really grab peoples’ attentions.  That’s a good strategy because this elections’ ads thus far have been very typical of campaign ads.  However, Wheelan has shown a willingness to take risks in his ads by pushing creativity, trying to be interesting and even seeming a little strange – in order to grab voters’ attention and hopefully their support.  His first two ads, “Underwater” and “Upside Down” created some nice buzz in the local and national blogosphere.

Now, Wheelan’s campaign has taken political communications creativity a step further with a political animated short released yesterday via Facebook and Twitter and posted on the campaign website.  Right now the campaign is only showing the trailer, with the hope of creating enough interest to draw people to a campaign event where the entire three-minute video will be aired.

The ad was produced by Bill Hillman’s agency, North Woods, responsible for Wheelan’s first two TV ads.  The ad’s purpose though is definitely different than other political ads we’ve seen in this campaign.  It’s unclear at the moment if a 30-second spot will be edited for a TV ad buy, meant to convince undecided voters in favor of Mr. Wheelan.  Instead, the ad is hoped to be an online viral success, drawing people to Wheelan’s website who are already Wheelan supporters or semi-supporters.  The campaign staff noted in an email that Wheelan’s website is much deeper in policy positions than his competitors and are confident that people who spend time on the site are sold on Wheelan’s depth.

I give kudos to Wheelan’s campaign for trying something daring.  Video goes viral because the production is so creative, smart, funny or shocking.  For a political campaign ad, Wheelan’s Dark Knight is solid (though a somewhat inaccurate, when at the outset the animated Blagojevich says that the Senate seat and Emanuel’s seat were up for sale.  It was really only the Senate seat.  Not that I defend Blago or anything.  Just for being informationally accurate.)  Wheelan is really shooting for the best viral outcome too in public affairs – offline action.  I’ve said for a long time now that political social media and viral efforts are the most effective when offline actions follow.

Meanwhile, John Fritchey’s latest direct mail advertisement hearkens back to his campaign messages as a reformer who has a history of leading  sensible legislation.

However, I can’t get over the irony inherent in the ad.  Fritchey uses the subject of honesty – admitting he puts ketchup on hot dogs – and that sort of straight talk is what is needed in Congress.  Using hot dogs, the ultimate sausage product, is ironic (and may piss off vegetarians) because Fritchey has been continuously tied to the “sausage-making” in Chicago’s legacy of corrupt political culture.  After all, Fritchey has been put on the hot seat for his role as a zoning lobbyist for clients looking to get clearance to develop in Chicago.  He’s also sought the support of the Northwest side Chicago Machine back in January.  And, as Progress Illinois has covered in depth, Fritchey has no inclination of distancing himself to family members who exercise the type of insider clout that onlookers have continuously criticized as shady.

Maybe using a sausage wasn’t such a good idea after all.  It represents Fritchey’s candidacy perfectly though.  Nobody likes seeing sausage being made, but the end result is a pretty tasty product.  Though with the Blagojevich and Burris scandals looming, maybe voters will actually care about Illinois sausage-making.

4 responses to “Advertisements Reflect the Candidate

  1. A Good Overview About the IL 5th CD …

    The 5th CD election is heating up to boil. The March 3 election is coming up fast.

    Step back and read Gapers Block Feb. 20, 2009 take on the 5th CD.

    “The Party Line – The 5th District Race”

    Joe Lake, Chicago (Bucktown)

  2. I agree. Wheelan deserves credit for his bold advertising/social media strategy. And when the ads move people to show up at an event or click to his website, he’s waiting for them with incredible knowledge on the issues and great ideas on how to move the country forward.
    I wanted to point out two things. With regard to your comment on the inaccuracy of the Dark Knight ad, Mark Shields had this to say during the 12-12-08 Newshour with Jim Lehrer. The topic is Blagojevich.
    Mark Shields:
    …I’ll tell you how dumb this guy is. Since the Congress of the United States began 219 years ago, there have been 11,991 members of the House of Representatives, of who he was one. He served three terms.
    Every one has one thing in common: They were elected. That’s the only way you can get to the United States House of Representatives.
    In his discussions on tape, the FBI has, he’s talking about whether they can get some money for an interim appointment to Congressman Rahm Emanuel’s seat, who’s become the chief of staff to President-elect Obama, I mean, not even knowing that nobody is appointed to the House of Representatives. I mean, their cravenness and their stupidity merged.
    —end of quote—

    I don’t know if the FBI tapes are public to verify what Shields said, but the full transcript of the Newshour segment is at

    Also, I find it interesting how integrated Wheelan’s campaign is regarding social media. For example, if you click on the Issues on his website, he now has–in addition to text– a YouTube video of himself talking about that issue. If you were just searching Wheelan on YouTube you would find these snippets on the issues also and that they are posted by WheelanforCongress. When you talk about how the advertisements reflect the candidate, I think you are right on–and it applies to other media as well. If you click on an issue on Quigley’s website, it’s all just grey text. If you click on an issue on Fritchey’s website, there is text with a still picture next to it. Wheelan is the candidate that is both exciting and knowledgeable.

  3. Pingback: The Best of IL-5 « Jesse Greenberg

  4. Cool site, love the info.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s