How Is Herschel Walker Still a Viable Candidate for U.S. Senate?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Politico Playbook, when I came across this item.

AD WARS — The most striking new political ad this week is the Republican Accountability PAC’s spot against Georgia GOP Senate nominee HERSCHEL WALKER, which features his ex-wife describing domestic abuse in shocking detail: “The first time he held the gun to my head, he held the gun to my temple, and said he was gonna blow my brains out.” It’s a six-figure ad buy in Georgia from the anti-Trump GOP group, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein.

Seriously, Doc – this guy might become a U.S. Senator? What the hell?

– Gun Shy

Dear Gun Shy,

Herschel Walker’s not the only looney toon among the current GOP crop of U.S. Senate candidates. Check out this bookend from New York Times columnist Michelle Cottle headlined, Why Is Ron Johnson Still Competitive Despite, You Know, Everything?

But back to Walker. Here’s the spot from the Republican Accountability PAC, spearheaded by the redoubtable Sarah Longwell.

The spot comes hard on the heels of this viral video from the Republican Accountability Project in which Walker 1) falsely claims he was an F.B.I. agent, 2) tells a story about heading down Route 183 to kill a man who disrespected him, 3) asks the Lord to help him, 4) walks toward the truck to kill the guy, and 5) sees a bumper sticker on the truck that says Honk If You Love Jesus.

“And that’s what calmed me down,” Walker concludes.

The Doc – who did seven years in the Midwest – always preferred the bumper sticker Honk If You Are Jesus.

But de gustibus, yeah?

Does ‘Cancel Culture’ Equal Accountability, Punishment, or Totalitarianism? (One Per Customer, Please)

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and checking out MediaPost’s Marketing Politics Weekly when I came across this Joe Mandese piece about a new ad campaign from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression.

Cancel Culture Campaign Equates It With ‘Totalitarianism’

At a time when the prevalence of “cancel culture” appears to be peaking in the United States, nonprofit free speech advocacy group FIRE is breaking new ads, as part of a multimedia campaign focusing on it.

The campaign, created by DeVito/Verdi, features out-of-home billboards (see above) and print media buys (see below), equating cancel culture to a form of totalitarianism.

What the hell, Doc – now all of a sudden we’re Communist China because a few people’s noses get out of joint?

– FIRED-UP

Dear F-U,

Cancel culture is America’s ultimate Rorschach test. In his MediaPost piece, Joe Mandese points to a recent Pew Research Center survey to illustrate the great divide in defining what cancel culture actually means.

The Center’s previous study of cancel culture showed that the term can mean different things to different people, so Pew Research Center asked Americans a separate question about whether calling out others on social media for posting content that might be considered offensive is more likely to hold people accountable or to punish those who didn’t deserve it.

Overall, 51% of U.S. adults say calling out others on social media is more likely to hold people accountable, while 45% say it is more likely to punish people who didn’t deserve it. But these views have shifted somewhat since September 2020. The share of adults who say this type of behavior is more likely to hold people accountable has decreased by 7 points, while the share who say it is more likely to punish people who didn’t deserve it has gone up by 7 points.

Helpful graphic.

And now – just to complicate things – comes FIRE’s ad campaign, which follows the group’s rebranding from “the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (originally to promote free speech on college campuses) to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression to broaden its mandate toward freedom of speech overall,” according to Mandese.

He also cites Josh Gerstein’s Politico piece reporting that FIRE “has raised $28.5 million for a planned three-year, $75 million litigation, opinion research and public education campaign aimed at boosting and solidifying support for free-speech values.”

Here’s a TV spot featuring two Emerson College students – K.J. Lynum and Sam Neves – “whose conservative group was suspended by the school’s president for circulating ‘China kinda sus’ stickers promoting the theory that a Chinese government lab caused the outbreak of Covid-19.”

And here’s a FIRE print ad banging a different drum.

Then again, it’s not like FIRE is all that and a bag of MLK chips, as Politico’s Josh Gerstein notes.

While FIRE has received praise from many free-speech advocates, some critics have said the group is a thinly veiled front for conservatives looking to promote their political agenda. Since its inception, FIRE has received funding from a variety of conservative foundations, including millions from some linked to billionaire Charles Koch.

The liberal Center for Media and Democracy’s SourceWatch has published this roll call of FIRE’s right-wing associations.

Connection to Conservative Dark Money Groups, Collaboration with Hate Group Alliance for Defending Freedom

FIRE has received millions of dollars in contributions from politically-active conservative nonprofits, including over $3.4 million from the Charles G. Koch Foundation, over $3.4 million from Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, over $1.8 million from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, over $1.3 million from the Sarah Schaife Foundation, over $1 million from the Searle Freedom Trust, and over $1 million from the Stand Together Trust.

Progressive watchdog organization Media Matters included FIRE in a 2017 piece describing how groups funded by right-wing billionaires and dark money organizations influence college campuses. Media Matters says “FIRE has partnered with anti-LGBTQ hate group Alliance Defending Freedom for some of these cases. It has also frequently weighed in on sexual misconduct cases, arguing that the definition of sexual harassment should not include ‘large amounts of constitutionally protected expression, such as any unwanted “sexual comments, gestures, jokes, or looks,”‘ and defended campus organizations that use hateful rhetoric or seek to exclude potential group members based on sexual orientation.

In other words, FIRE at your own discretion.

Seriously, Is Tom Steyer Crazy?

[Aditor’s note: As you might – or more likely might not – have noticed, Dr. Ads has been (in)conspicuous by his absence over the past several months. We’d rather not get into the details; let’s just say he’s been under the care of an actual doctor. Yo.]

DrAdsforProfileWell the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, just minding my own business and reading Politico Playbook, when I came across this:

VIDEO DU JOUR – “Tom Steyer’s ads test the boundaries of the ‘bizarre,’” by Darren Goode: “Steyer is trying to sway national climate policy and the midterm elections with an ad campaign that is raising eyebrows among independent fact-checkers, some television stations, his political opponents and even a few allies — using an approach that strikes observers as anywhere from groundbreaking to downright bizarre. … [Chris] Lehane, who wrote much of the ads’ scripts, said they are born from creative sessions after Steyer’s team has identified its target audience and message.”

Have you seen these ads, Doc? I mean, I’m all for combatting climate change, but Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, eh?

– Al G.

Dear Al G.,

We’re talking about some nutty stuff, even for the Doc. Start out with this TV spot from Steyer’s NextGen Climate advocacy outfit attacking Iowa GOP Senate candidate Joni (The Castrator) Ernst.

 

 

Really? Is the average TV viewer gonna pay enough attention to that mishmash to get what it’s trying to say? We’re thinking not.

That ad is almost as strange as this spot NextGen ran last year attacking the Keystone XL Pipeline.

 

 

So how effective has Steyer’s climate police campaign been? The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel answered this way in her column last week.

A Climate Crusader’s Comeuppance

Billionaire Tom Steyer’s vow to make politicians toe the green line isn’t working out so well.

As political comedowns go, there may be few to compare to the humbling of Tom Steyer. Six months after the climate activist roared on the national political scene vowing $100 million to impose his agenda on this fall’s midterms, it would appear that this billionaire don’t hunt.

Remember the liberal huzzahs that greeted the February pledge? The New York Times gave Mr. Steyer the front page, heralding a coming “hard-edge campaign of ED-AS551A_edp08_D_20140814190209attack ads” that would pressure officials to “enact climate change measures” and persuade voters to back a climate agenda. Democrats hailed him as their new power broker, crowing about a war chest that could rival the Koch brothers and even up the midterm election odds. Environmentalists welcomed a white knight who would finally align the party and public behind their priorities.

Or not. Mr. Steyer at an Aspen conference this week revealed that little if any of this is happening. The left is as split over energy as it has ever been; the public isn’t buying the climate line; and the hedge-fund-manager-turned-activist looks to be regrouping.

Strassel adds this about the current NextGen ad:

NextGen, which bragged in May that it would make climate a “wedge” issue in “political races,” couldn’t even bring itself to mention the environment in its first ad of the political season, against Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst. It instead hit her for supporting lower taxes.

Yeah, hit her like a Nerf ball. Our Rx for Tom Steyer: Find the NextGen of admakers.

Yo.

What’s This ‘Addressable Advertising’ Rumpus About?

DrAdsforProfileWell the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

A case of suds is riding on this.Unknown-1

I saw the following item in Politico’s Playbook the other day:

“DIRECTV and DISH Revolutionize Political TV Advertising Landscape with Combined Addressable Advertising Platform Reaching 20+ Million Households” – Release: “DIRECTV and DISH Network … have joined forces to offer an addressable advertising platform of unprecedented scale and reach for political campaigns. The strategic relationship will allow participating statewide political campaigns to target their TV ads at the household level within 20+ million DIRECTV and DISH homes.” 

My buddy says addressable advertising means they’ll send a letter to your house.

I say it means they’ll send a letter to your work.

Who’s right, Doc?

– Direct Dish

Dear Direct Dish,

You’re both idiots.

Addressable advertising involves TV spots that are specifically targeted to individual households.

For example, downstairs from the Doc there’s a nice couple with two kids. When they watch television, they’ll see commercials for DisneyWorld and Flintstones vitamins and Carnival Cruises. When the old Doc watches TV upstairs, he’ll see ads for Marian Manor and Centrum Silver and Forest Hills Cemetery.

That’s addressable advertising.Unknown

According to the press release from the satellite TV companies, “[t]he DIRECTV-DISH arrangement will focus on political TV advertisements only, while the companies’ other media sales efforts will continue to operate independently.”

But that’s just the beginning. Addressable advertising is the Holy Grail, every brand’s wet dream of “marketing to an audience of one,” as they call it.

And, in turn, addressable advertising is every audience-of-one’s nightmare.

Yo.