The Art of the Weird Campaign Ad

The strangest, most fantastical political campaign ads from candidates who’ll never win.

Alabama Agriculture Commission who wasn't.
National Journal
Lucia Graves
Add to Briefcase
Lucia Graves
Sept. 13, 2013, 9:36 a.m.

Mike Gravel, the un­likely pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate who cre­ated what is per­haps the most be­loved, ab­struse, polit­ic­al cam­paign ad of the past dec­ade, has got some com­pet­i­tion in Min­neapol­is may­or­al can­did­ate Jeff Wag­n­er.

Wager, a Demo­crat, has pro­duced a video that Tae­gan God­dard’s Polit­ic­al Wire is call­ing “just out­stand­ing.” In the video, Wager emerges from a lake to re­mind view­ers that he will not be taken in by dark money or shady deal­ers. “I’m cool with mak­ing $100,000 a year,” said Wag­n­er. “I will not take money from the de­velopers. I will not take money from the polit­ic­al angle.”

The pop­u­list mes­sage re­calls the ideal­ism por­trayed by Gravel, who prom­ised not to take dirty money. It’s just a minute long.

Now com­pare that to Gravel’s ads “Rock” and “Fire,” two av­ant-garde, word­less things, pro­duced by Ot­is Col­lege of Art and Design staff. The first, about three minutes long, shows Gravel star­ing blankly at the view­er for over a minute be­fore heav­ing a large rock in­to a lake and walk­ing slowly away.

The second opens with him col­lect­ing wood in a forest and star­ing in­to the res­ult­ant camp­fire. Then for sev­en minutes we watch the fire burn with Gravel’s web­site graph­ic su­per­im­posed.

Gravel’s second ad is re­min­is­cent of an­oth­er fab­ulous ad for Jeff Barth, the Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ent to Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota. In it he wanders in­to a forest ex­plain­ing why D.C. in­siders are a bunch of “horse’s asses,” as fiddle mu­sic plays.

He also dons a hard hat, ges­tic­u­lates wildly with a news­pa­per, and fires a loaded weapon — all in un­der five minutes! Be sure to watch at least as far as the part where he cas­u­ally men­tions that his daugh­ters have hus­bands and straight teeth. We’re pretty sure there’s a policy pro­pos­al in there some­where.

We leave you with a clas­sic from the Alabama ag­ri­cul­ture com­mis­sion­er’s race.

With a back­drop in­clud­ing a horse, a cow­boy hat, and a rifle, Dale Peterson asks Alabama Re­pub­lic­ans for the nom­in­a­tion. In 71 seconds of un­in­ter­rup­ted bril­liance — and the oc­ca­sion­al crack of whip — Peterson calls his primary op­pon­ent a “dummy” while prom­ising to name name and take no pris­on­ers in his fight against “thugs and crim­in­als” and “il­leg­als bused in by the thou­sands.” We call this polit­ic­al ap­proach the pat­ri­ot­ic throat-punch.

And so ends our cov­er­age of the best polit­ic­al cam­paign ads for can­did­ates who went nowhere. Did we men­tion it’s Fri­day in Wash­ing­ton?

Patrick Reis contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
KIM CALLS TRUMP A “DOTARD”
North Korea Threatens H-Bomb Test Over Pacific
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"North Korea said on Friday it might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean after President Donald Trump vowed to destroy the reclusive country, with leader Kim Jong Un promising to make Trump pay dearly for his threats. Kim did not specify what action he would take against the United States or Trump, whom he called a 'mentally deranged U.S. dotard' in the latest bout of insults the two leaders have traded in recent weeks."

Source:
INFORMS CONGRESS RE: EXECUTIVE ORDER
Trump Makes Good on Promise of New North Korea Sanctions
2 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump this afternoon announced another round of sanctions on North Korea, calling the regime "a continuing threat." The executive order, which Trump relayed to Congress, bans any ship or plane that has visited North Korea from visiting the United States within 180 days. The order also authorizes sanctions on any financial institution doing business with North Korea, and permits the secretaries of State and the Treasury to sanction any person involved in trading with North Korea, operating a port there, or involved in a variety of industries there.

SOUTH KOREA WILL SEND AID
Trump Promises More Sanctions on North Korea
2 days ago
THE LATEST

In response to a reporter's question, President Trump said "he’ll be looking to impose further financial penalties on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic tests. ... The U.N. has passed two resolutions recently aimed at squeezing the North Korean economy by cutting off oil, labor and exports to the nation." Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that South Korea's unification ministry is sending an $8m aid package aimed at infants and pregnant women in North Korea. The "humanitarian gesture [is] at odds with calls by Japan and the US for unwavering economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang."

Source:
HIGHLIGHT ISSUES FACING KIDS
FLOTUS to Speak at UN Luncheon
4 days ago
THE LATEST
PRESSES CASE FOR REFORMS
Trump Meets with UN Leaders
4 days ago
THE LATEST

President Trump on Tuesday night met with UN Secretary Guterres and President of the General Assembly Miroslav Lajcak. In both cases, as per releases from the White House, Trump pressed them on the need to reform the UN bureaucracy.

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login