Democratic candidates Frank Bruno, Karen Castor Dentel have new TV ads: one is good, one is "phoned-in"

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Our Political Ad Watch club reviewed the new ads put out by the Florida Democratic Party on behalf of State Senate candidate Frank Bruno and State House candidate Karen Castor Dentel. Political consultant Gregory Wilson gets the conversation started, noticing a distinct difference between the two ads:

These two commercials are instructive to anyone studying political advertising. Both are conventional and competent. Neither offend or, at least, try to. Both use “real people” as talent; Frank Bruno let’s his wife do the talking–a tried and true technique, to be sure–and Karen Castor Dental (I usually counsel against three-name candidates, which is usually a futile exercise) commendably speaks on her own behalf, which is one of the strongest steps any candidate can take…if they can, or if their director and editor can perform magic.

Bruno does the better job of branding himself–making voters feel good about him. The production value here is very good, though I don’t see reason for quite so many quick cuts when a few slow dissolves might better support the mood. My bet is this spot targets women voters and serves well as an introduction to the candidate. Doesn’t say much, mind you, but that isn’t the point. You can’t help but like the guy after seeing the spot, and there’s nothing wrong with launching a multi-spot TV campaign that way.

Castor Dental, not to be mistaken with where you get your teeth cleaned, makes clear her priority is education. Strong start, but then some “generic male announcer” interrupts the spot with what we call “voiceover” to say what the candidate is perfectly capable of saying for herself. Add some institutional-sounding canned music, some stock footage of people at work and a closing line that doesn’t serve to effectively brand the candidate or ask for the vote, and I have to take away points. In fairness to this spot, it’s a “three-pack,” meaning it can’t advocate for a vote. Fair enough, but that is no reason not to help voters better know “how to feel” about this candidate. The potential is certainly here, but they didn’t fully seize the opportunity that was within their grasp.

Someone worked hard to make a good commercial, and it shows. Someone else “phoned it in,” as if you might see this same commercial used with different faces throughout Florida.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.