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Caveat Voter - Broadcasting & Cable

Caveat Voter

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"Ask not what your condiment can do for you. Ask what you can do for your condiment."

I think the Ad Council has hit on a winner with its new campaign to get young people to the polls, laughing all the way.

The council has been spending over half a century playing matchmaker between creative Madison Avenue types and media outlets, the offspring of which have been some dynamite campaigns to keep us healthy, make us safer, or just a little more socially aware.

This latest salvo is a hoot. Call it the John Stewart (or, swiftly gaining in goofy stature, Steven Colbert) approach to educating the young masses.

The new PSA's (that's public service announcement in TVspeak) feature slick political ads promoting unusual candidates including a bag full of leaves, a packet full of relish, and a "yappy dog." If we are to believe one spot, the relish packed saved a war buddy trapped behind enemy lines, for example, and has the kind of courage and integrity we need to lead this country forward.

The point is twofold: 1) To illustrate how political campaigns manipulate images and market their product just like the hawkers of hairspray or designer potato chips (sorry, Dan, "potatoe" chips). 2) To point out that if you're not paying attention to the election, you could be blindsided by a candidate who could, say, secretly monitor the relish inventory at fast food joints or threaten to shoot the neighbor's dog just becuase he might bark someday in the middle of the night, stuff like that, though the campaign itself is nonpartisan.

Check out the spots at http://www.adcouncil.org/default.aspx?id=26 and be prepared to be amused, very amused. Good work, councilfolk.

By John Eggerton

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