Noteworthy 2010 Political Campaign Ads (Part 1)
Witches, demon sheep and the Old Spice Guy, oh my! No, these aren’t costume ideas for Halloween—these were all somehow incorporated into political campaign ads in this year’s election.
The 2010 midterm election brought us some interesting and memorable campaign ads. Some worked, other didn’t. There were plenty of negative ads, demeaning other candidates and devolving into nastiness. Others took a more positive approach, highlighting the candidate’s strengths and accomplishments. There were also ads that were also just bizarre, puzzling and even funny—intentionally so or otherwise.
As Election Day nears, and the campaign winds down, we reflect now on some of the more noteworthy ads to come out of this cycle. Whittling the ads down to a list of 10 was quite a difficult task. There were just so many too chose from. That is why instead of doing a list of the best or top ads, we decided to choose 10 that we thought were “noteworthy.” This list is in particular order, and by no means comprehensive; we recognize that there may be some ads missing from this list.
In Part 1, we take a look at five of the 10 ads. On Monday, in Part 2 of the series, we’ll take a look at the rest.
Christine O’Donnell (Delaware Senate Race):
Stephanie McNeal: Christine O’Donnell made herself the butt of every joke by releasing arguably one of the weirdest and funniest campaign ads well...ever! She made the ad as a reaction to talk that she had dabbled in witchcraft as a teenager. The ad managed to not only reveal the scandal to millions of Americans who had no idea who she even was, but simultaneously creep them out and make them double over in laughter. Quite a feat, but if you want to be a viable Senate candidate Christine, you may want to stick to talking about the political issues.
Tracy Bloom: First of all, I'd like to thank Bill Maher, because without him, this ad would never have happened. So, in this ad Christine O’Donnell wants you to know she is just like you—unless you’re actually a witch, iin which case, she’s nothing like you at all, so never mind! This ad was one of the most talked about when it first aired, and is there any wonder why? Who would have ever guessed a political ad would begin with these words: “I’m not a witch?” Doesn't quite have the same ring as "I'm not crook," let's just say. This one is destined to become a classic, as is the incredibly funny SNL parody of it.
John Hickenlooper (Colorado Governor’s Race):
SM: This ad is like when your parents do something they think is really funny and clever, but is actually extremely dorky and awkward. No matter what, you kind of feel like you have to laugh. Poor guy is trying so hard to make a clever ad with a valid point, but instead he has people all over Colorado giving him the sympathy chuckle. At least he got monogrammed towels with his campaign slogan on them!
TB: John Hickenlooper is so against negative ads that he actually made a negative ad against…negative ads! Given the current cycle, I’ll bet Hicknelooper had to jump into the shower quite a few times. Still—while it is a little strange that he showers with his clothes on, I have to admit this one gave me quite a laugh the first time I watched. Also, I gotta give him props for having one of the more few noteworthy ads that didn’t tread into negative territory against another candidate.
Dale Peterson (Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Candidate):
SM: Oh, Dale. Can we be friends? Honestly, you seem like a funny guy, and here in California people like you just don’t really seem to exist. To be honest, I actually had no idea there was even a position of Agriculture Commissioner until I saw this ad. I, like so many others, have been kept in the dark by thugs and criminals I guess. But now that I am enlightened, I would totally trust you with five billion dollars to run, the agriculture of Alabama.
TB: Listen up people! If I could have voted in the Alabama Agriculture Commissioner’s race, I would have cast my ballot for Dale Peterson. (An aside: is it too late for him to enter the race to become California’s next governor? Because something tells me the California State Legislature would work much better with Peterson in Sacramento). Peterson’s ad is arguably the best of the political cycle. It may even be one of the best ever. What’s not to like? He’s got his horse, a gun and you better listen to him because he means business! Seriously, how did he did NOT win his primary?!
Carly Fiorina (California Senate Race):
SM:The first time I ever saw this ad I honestly had no idea what was going on. I sat, transfixed staring at the computer screen, watching the increasingly disturbing saga of the demon sheep unfold. I think the weirdest part about this ad for me is when the little stuffed sheep morph into nightmare-inducing men in sheep suits crawling around in the grass. It looks like someone took a show on PBS and turned it into some Halloween horror movie. It’s kind of like that show they had on a few years ago about those bouncing bright ball things that looked like they were going to kill you in your sleep, the Boobahs. And after all that, I still don’t get the point Fiorina was trying to make. Well, unless she is telling us Tom Campbell likes to dress in sheep suits and crawl around in the grass in his spare time.
TB: Two words say it all here: demon sheep! This ad got much hype when it first aired during the Republican Senate Primary in California, and it's easy to see why. Where to begin on this one? At 3 minutes and 22 seconds, it’s incredibly long for a campaign ad, so let’s skip to the good part: the demon sheep, which is introduced at around the 2:26 mark. I can’t get over how fake it looks—I think at one point you can even see the guy playing the sheep is wearing a blue t-shirt. The best part however, is towards the end when the man dressed as the demon sheep is “grazing” on the grass (mmmmm, tasty!) and then crawls away, his shoes visibly showing. Considering Fiorina is a wealthy former businesswoman, you’d think she’d spend a little more money to incorporate special effects.
Pamela Gorman (Arizona Congressional Race):
SM: This ad is honestly so intimidating. So if things don’t go her way, she’s going to pop out her gat and go apeshit all over Congress? Okay, okay lady we get it. You can shoot a gun. Why does that make me want to vote for you? Is this an intimidation tactic? My favorite part about this is her serene beginning next to the tree, then cutting to her with the machine gun. Is this the smile I’m going to see before she shoots me in the face? Should I be worried about this? Maybe I don’t want to cover politics after all.
TB: Based on this one ad, I’m not exactly sure what Pamela Gorman’s qualifications are to serve in Congress, but I will say this: her mastery of various types of weaponry is truly quite impressive! Clearly, she can kick some serious butt! But how would Gorman handle the issues? Would she load up her weapon and fire away? How would she deal with the ballooning deficit—shoot it? And what about health care reform—would she gun it down?
Gorman actually lost her primary to Ben Quayle, who ran his own ad claiming "Somebody has to go to Washington and knock the hell out of the place.” Harsh language from the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, who, among other very memorable gaffes, couldn’t correctly spell “potato,” and thought Phoenix was in California instead of Arizona. I’m just sayin'.