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Herman Cain’s viral ad? Irresponsible or Brilliant? October 31, 2011

Posted by jforristal in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,

By now we’ve probably all seen the Herman Cain viral campaign ad. If not you can see it here.

The ad starts with Mark Block, Cain’s chief of staff, discussing the importance of the campaign.  He give some standard political jargon citing how Cain will, “put the United back in United States” and “America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain.” The ad then gets a little weird. Block takes a long drag of a cigarette while an “I AM AMERICA” chorus sings in the background. Then we see Cain’s creepy smile fade across the camera. The whole sequence is just bizarre.

One can’t quite be sure of the motives behind this ad for Cain or his campaign.  Is the cigarette drag supposed to be significant? Some people even questioned the realness of the advertisement. It feels like Block is showing total disregard for his audience by blowing smoke in their face.

The end shot of the awkwardly beaming Cain makes he seem somewhat fake.

Professional take-aways differ:

William Zeranski of American Thinker calls the ad “brilliant simply because it gets the cauldron of elitst feelings roiling.”

Todd Essig of Forbes calls Cain’s ad “irresponsible” and thinks it should, “help disqualify him for the office he seeks.”

Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post takes more of a middle ground calling Block’s cigarette drag “accidental brilliance.”

Cain is most likely trying to strike the heartstrings of Americans sick of big government and regulations. The drag of the cigarette timed with the “I am America” chorus speaks to Americans frustrated with government regulatory practices.

Smoking is seen as taboo in a majority of people under the age of 40 or 50, which is why seeing a Presidential political campaign is so odd for viewers. Cain has recently came out to say that the ad was not an endorsement of smoking, however doesn’t need to look past the upcoming crucial caucus test Cain faces in South Carolina, where tobacco is still a major industry. With that many companies that that many more smokers in the state, Cain should be looking towards a big donation pull in the state.

In my opinion, the importance of campaign advertisement is less in what it says and more in the fact that people are talking about it. I’m making a stretch to write about it in a PR class, bloggers are debating its implication, and voters are noticing. No matter what the commercial says about smoking or big government, it gets Cain (albeit eerie) face on camera.



1. jordancalgaro - November 20, 2011

Despite the fact the advertisement is creepy, and seems somewhat unreal for a campaign around a presidential candidate, I agree that it is significant enough to get people talking. This ad has been debated on news stations, blogs, late night tv, etc. You have a strong point in that the importance of the campaign is less about the copy, but more that it has ignited a conversation. Neat post, John.

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