Did one candidate unleash the most potent campaign weapon of all time?
Former state Sen. Dan Moody is one of 11 Republicans running in the special election in Georgia’s 6th District to replace former GOP Rep. Tom Price, now the Health & Human Services secretary. Moody’s first television ad attempted to break through the clutter with a combination of live donkeys and elephants, with the candidate cleaning up manure behind them.
But his outerwear may have been the most important piece, since Moody was donning something close to a barn jacket.
I’ve written about this clothing phenomenon over the years, including last year with “The $100 Jacket Politicians Use to Pretend to Be Normal People.”
Moody would be playing to type, considering he is planning to infuse his campaign with thousands of dollars of his own money. But upon closer examination, the jacket doesn’t quite look like it makes the cut.
And at least a couple of other things stood out to me about the ad.
The campaign chose to make a 60-second ad, a less traditional and more expensive option compared to a 30-second spot. The choice is also noteworthy considering the suburban district is covered by the expensive Atlanta media market.
Beyond the 60-second choice, the candidate’s name and image don’t appear until more than halfway into the ad. In a campaign sprint where name identification is arguably the most important factor, this ad appears to waste an opportunity or waste money, or both.
One of the goals of the ad must have been to generate buzz and earned media because Moody is shown shoveling elephant manure. But while the candidate makes the shoveling motion multiple times, the ad never shows him scooping a load of crap.
Ohio Republican Tim Derickson didn’t use any camera tricks in his ad depicting manure last cycle, although it wasn’t enough for him to win. Indiana’s Kip Tom talked about shoveling manure but never did the deed in the ad. Tom did wear the barn jacket, but still lost his race last year as well.
Moody’s ad also features an arguably sexist moment when one of the elephants dons a pearl necklace while the narrator intones, “In this time of change, neither Georgia nor America need another career politician.”
It’s not even a veiled reference to Republican Karen Handel, the special election’s early front-runner and former Georgia secretary of state, who has run unsuccessfully for governor and the U.S. Senate and often wears a pearl necklace.
Even though it’s too early to make any definitive statements about the 2018 midterm elections, at least we have this year’s special elections and television ads as an appetizer to next year’s main course.