Political ad watch (P.A.W.): Still laughing at Dave Wheldon's introductory web video

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Editor’s note: Put out your hand and meet P.A.W. —  the Political Ad Watch club coming together to offer a critical take on the soon-to-be-unending stream of political commercials.  As new commercials are released by candidates and campaigns running in the Sunshine State, a not-too-select group of political aficionados will offer their expert opinions on these ads.  

Be sure, this isn’t PolitiFact; we’re not here to judge the veracity of each ad.  That’s rather boring, actually.  No, what PAW intends to do is measure the most important aspect of a political commercial: Does it work?  

What works or doesn’t work will be left up to those offering their opinions, with this basic criteria: they’ll know it when they see it.  Here’s the first installment.

Former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon announced Friday that he’s running for the U.S. Senate. “Someone has to provide a conservative solution to the problems the administration has created and the Senate has endorsed,” Weldon said.

Weldon timed his entrance into the race with the release of this web video, which, fortunately for Weldon, was obviously not viewed by enough people to be fully eviscerated for being one of the worst ads released by a statewide campaign.

The concept here — all of these people , literally, running — is just preposterous.  Not only because all of these people running are culled from stock footage, little of which was shot a thousand miles near Florida — but because this feels like a short video from ‘Saturday Night Live.’  If Lorne Michaels walked into the writers’ room and asked them to script a mock political commercial, this may be what they’d come up with.

But it’s not just the overall theme which is bothersome, it’s also several of the minor details that are off-key, such as the use of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a source for a very broad headline at the :17 point of the ad.  Are voters in Naples going to read that and say, ‘Oh, well then, it has to be true if the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says it’?

Five seconds later is the shot of a male hurdling over a car as the narrator describes how ‘patients are running for their lives.’  If a patient can hurdle a car, the health care can’t be that bad, no?

The detail most obviously out of place comes at the :47 mark when there is yet another male running towards, um, a mountain?  Exactly which mountain range in Florida is the one in this shot?

The entire ad is a disaster … children running for no logical reason … dramatic music worthy of parody on The Colbert Report … and, then, finally, if not mercifully, a fade-in to a frighteningly stiff photo of Weldon, which looks like it was last used in a medical ad for Weldon’s medical practice.

Weldon’s lucky he released this ad on a Friday, otherwise it may have become a mini-viral sensation among Florida’s political class.

Kevin Cate of Cate Communications weighs in:

“Everything Peter said, plus Napoleon Dynamite’s girlfriend called – she wants her mall glamor headshot back.”

Abel Harding is equally unimpressed:

“A candidate who doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning should be the guy out with a compelling, creative ad that wakes snoring Republicans and compels their attention. If Dave Weldon’s goal was to become an object of ridicule on the Colbert Report, this ad is genius.”

Michelle Todd had to force herself to watch the entire ad:

“There’s nothing I hate more than a campaign ad full of thoughtless stock footage.  As far as that awesome head shot at the end, I’d expect to see that on a personal injury lawyer’s advertisement in a dive bar bathroom stall, not a U.S. Senate candidate’s announcement commercial.”

Rick Wilson comes heavy:

“I saw it and thought, ‘What fresh Hell is this?”

“The Running Man stock shots are a montage of vaguely stress-inducing kinetic junk from lots of places identifiably not in Florida.  The supers clearly come from the MTFLB school of “MOAR TEXT ON SCREEN” and not ONE of them is from a Florida news source.  It’s a small, but telling thing.  Republican primary voters already KNOW all these things about Obama.  You don’t have to oversell…but you do have to sell something more than “be my running mate.”

“What’s the rule of Fight Club? No, not that one…the one that says, “Your introductory ad needs to actually introduce you. ” We get to “Dr. Dave Weldon” in the final frames of the spot.  By this point, the ad is a confusing muddle.  Was there one thing in it as a selling proposition of why Dave Weldon is better for the cause than Connie Mack, George LeMieux, or some hobo in a trench coat, running from city to city? No. If you’re a Dave Welson fan, this ad is a disservice to your candidate.  If you’re supporting one of the other guys, it probably didn’t leave you with any doubts.”

“Never let amateurs use chainsaws or stock footage.  The results are often painful, bloody and end up splattered all over the place, and this ad is a perfect example.”

Greg Wilson sums it all up:

“Hardly what I would call an effective introduction to one’s campaign. Mentioned Obama enough that my first guess would be RNC or Romney. Never knew it was for Weldon until the end. Clearly someone knows how to secure stock footage, a dramatic score and a polished announcer, and edit competently, but someone does not know how to write and produce a local political TV spot. It’s possible an amateur political consultant had his hands on this, but my guess is the worst possible choice was made: the candidate played producer. Any good doctor knows not to operate on himself. Dr. Dave Weldon just amputated his right leg below the knee. Sad part is that no one will notice, not even the good doctor.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.