The Politics of Deceptive Advertising

Today is November 7th, Election Day. I am thrilled that after today I won’t have to be bombarded with political ads that highlight everything people hate about advertising. Between the MO Senatorial race candidates (R – Jim Talent and D – Claire McCaskill) and the proposed State Constitutional Amendments (Stem Cell Research, Tobacco Tax) I couldn’t tell you what to vote based on the ads. As the Election Day came closer and closer one camp would put out an ad making a negative claim against their opponent and a day later the opposing camp would completely discredit the claim and lash back with another negative claim. The proportion of negative attacks vs. image building ads has gotten more and more distorted over the years. If Nike and Adidas pulled these same tactics people would buy Reebok and sales would plummet. Too bad our political candidate and their parties still employ tactics that create decisions based on “the least of all evils” instead of the genuine embodiment of a candidate’s values and credentials.
OK – rant over.

Expert Borat Trap

Reports are abundant of the experts’ incredulity of the success of Sacha Baron Cohen’s new film, ”Borat’s Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”. Two seemingly obvious questions are: Why did the film make some $9 million on its opening Friday? And, why were the experts so wrong in their anticipation of this film’s failure? I have no pretensions about being the kind of expert whom have been rendering these prognostications, but I won’t let that stop me from trying to answer these questions.
I don’t have any desire to critique the film itself, so let’s just assume that Sacha and his film are good stuff. Anyway, I don’t have to critique it, because you can go to YouTube and see any number of Borat clips. Interestingly, this clip of Borat wrestling CBS’ Harry Smith has almost 500,000 views as of this evening. I submit that this is, in fact, the answer to the above questions. I don’t know how all these clips came to be on YouTube long before the movie’s release, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a part of a clever marketing strategy. I also wouldn’t be surprised to discover that the aforementioned experts knew little to nothing of this fact.
Update 11/6: That CBS clip has almost 900,000 views just two days later.