Shocking but Flawed Anti-Trump Ad

Shocking but Flawed Anti-Trump Ad


The general election advertising battle has begun. One of the first salvos is this ad from Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC.

The ad doesn’t build up attitudes toward Clinton. It only tries to generate negative attitudes toward Trump. All of the “speakers” in the ad wear tee shirts bearing an unflattering but unmistakable image of Trump. When each of the first six “speakers” move their mouths, the voice we hear is Trump. It is shocking to hear Trump’s reprehensive comments appearing to come from the mouths of women and from one dad who seems to deliver Trump’s comment about dating his daughter.

The ad works through simple association, and this requires only repeated juxtaposition, not accuracy.  But, in this case, the first six comments are delivered in Trump’s voice, so with those comments, he can hardly claim to be misquoted.

However, this ad makes two mistakes.

The first mistake is the seventh and final Trump quote delivered by a woman in her own voice, “Tell them to go f**k themselves.” The ad clearly implies that, by “them,” Trump is referring to women. But even the chief strategist for Priorities USA admitted, in that quote, Trump was referring to out-sourcing. Trump can truthfully claim the ad misquotes him. Surely Trump has said enough negative things about women to fill a 30-second spot. Why give Trump the opportunity to claim deceit and appear the victim? Why give viewers a reason to doubt the veracity of the whole spot?

The second mistake is the announcer copy, which is reinforced by the words-on-screen, “Does Donald Trump really speak for you?” This comment is worse than unnecessary.  It changes the audience from one that was participating with the message into one that is patronized by the message. Never tell an audience what they can and will figure out for themselves. A message that spells out what need not be spelled out insults viewers’ intelligence and sacrifices credibility.  When viewers tell themselves the message, the source is unimpeachable. When the announcer explains the message, the source is automatically suspect.

This is a potentially very persuasive ad that suffers from a lack of confidence in its advertising idea.

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