Friday, November 11, 2011

Smoking—the perfect way to drive a message home

Today we kick-off a new series: guest blogs by students in my PR WRITING class at NYU. Be ready for knock-your-socks-off opinions from a dozen young professional communicators who have verve, insights and a POV.

Smoking—the perfect way to drive a message home

by Alicia Hart

In a political blunder, Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain faced some backlash over his campaign ad that went viral. In the ad, Cain’s chief of staff praises him, saying, “America has never seen a candidate like Herman Cain.” It ends when his chief of staff takes a drag on a cigarette. I found the smoking bit quite funny; I laughed and quickly forgot about Herman Cain being the “right” man for the job.

Cain appeared on Face the Nation and tried to rationalize why his team decided to include the bit at the end. When asked by Bob Schieffer whether it was meant to be funny, Cain said it was meant to be informative. Once Cain revealed he was a cancer survivor, his argument lost all merit. Cain stumbled over his answers, and he was trying to divert attention back to his campaign message. It seemed to me that at the end of their talk, Schieffer almost forced Cain to say smoking was not cool and that young people shouldn’t do it. Well then why did you include it in the ad Cain?!

So my question is, was it a publicity stunt just to get Cain’s name out there? And maybe implant his name in the minds of those who may have no knowledge of who he is?

Do campaign ads really work? In my opinion, they are the platform to completely bash either your opponent in the same party, or the current person in the office you’re trying to attain. They don’t sway my vote, but then again I consume most of my news online, and the only time I watch a campaign ad is when it stirs the controversy pot and goes viral. Hmmmm… so maybe that was his plan all along. Kudos Mr. Cain—you got my attention when I otherwise would have devoted a blog post to a candidate I actually support.

Alicia Hart grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, loves a good book recommendation, and is a candidate for a Masters in Public Relations and Corporate Communication at NYU.


Anonymous said...

Hasn't every election in America been won by creating a sense of heated conflict between two ideologies – even if there isn't one? How would you counsel a politician to get his or her ideas across in a world where the media's bloodlust and the nanaosecond-long attention spans of Americans continually crowd out forthright, reasonable voices?

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