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What The Hell Is Going On In These 2018 Campaign Ads?

In a time where political tensions are high and everyone appears to have lost their damn minds, I decided to see what impact this divisiveness is having on how candidates are asking for votes in this coming election. And boy howdy, I wasn’t disappointed.

While campaign ads are traditionally among some of the most unwatchable trash on the air, I appreciate the willingness of this year’s candidates to take things to a whole new level. Below is just a taste of the over-the-top, cartoonish and uncomfortable ads we’re being assaulted with this year.

Behold, unhinged right-wing extremism at its finest. I’m gonna look past the fact that Mr. Kemp expects people to believe that he’ll make 2,000 round trips to take immigrants back to the Mexico border, mainly because there probably are people that do. However, his penchant for chainsaws, guns and explosions really just shows me that this is a guy that should probably not be in charge of a book of matches, let alone the state of Georgia.

Will being maced in the face change anyone’s mind about gun control?

The first 50 seconds of this ad comes across as you’d expect – an innocent mother and child, a token minority, and a candidate with an unrealistically ambitious agenda. But then it gets weird – really weird. We sit and watch as a pepper-sprayed Levi Tillemann writhes in pain, pours a garden hose into his eyes and cries like a little bitch. I don’t know whose experience is harder on the eyes, mine or his. His stunt is enough to make us totally forget about what the ad was about in the first place.

Please stick to the issues, or risk confusing your audience. That weird pinchy-pinch hand gesture is enough. Really.

This sedated slug is Don Blankenship, as he’s sleepily asking for the votes of West Virginians. The entire ad is a monotone rant about “Cocaine Mitch” (whatever that means) and “draining the swamp” (about as original as we should expect, I guess). While I will never understand why he’s holding those two girls in the final shot, I do know that using the term “China people” on camera in 2018 is a horrible idea. Perhaps best for West Virginia and the free world, his campaign was short-lived.

Probably the worst of them all is this crime against humanity by congressional candidate Dan Helmer, who I can only guess is a veteran because he’s only too subtle about showing it. Through the horrific singing and desperate attempt to be charming, any point our loose cannon protagonist is trying to make in this very uncomfortable ad is completely lost.

I honestly couldn’t make it to the end of the commercial, but I hope it doesn’t end with “Take My Breath Away”. It’s probably the only way this goofball ad could be any worse.

Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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