Ad nau­seam

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

If you live in Cen­tral Vir­ginia, you prob­a­bly grew tired of the in­ces­sant po­lit­i­cal ads on TV long be­fore they stopped run­ning. Join the club.

The cam­paigns and their al­lies spent heav­ily to pun­ish view­ers with a drum­beat of mostly neg­a­tive spots. You know the rou­tine: Stark im­agery, un­flat­ter­ing pic­tures, bold­face text, and omi­nous voice-overs. The spots leave peo­ple feel­ing their in­tel­li­gence has been in­sulted, and they need to take a shower to boot.

This year, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by the Vir­ginia Pub­lic Ac­cess Project, the Northam and Gille­spie cam­paigns — and those aligned with them — spent just a hair un­der $5 mil­lion in the Rich­mond mar­ket on me­dia buys. Most of the ad­ver­tis­ing was done on tele­vi­sion — prob­a­bly be­cause news­pa­per read­ers are too smart and well-in­formed to fall for it.

No­body likes neg­a­tive ad­ver­tis­ing, but po­lit­i­cal in­sid­ers say it works. (Are they right? If you find such ads per­sua­sive, write to let­ters@times­dis­patch.com and let us know.) We’re not so sure, our­selves. The real ad­ver­tis­ing pros — the ones who work on the ac­counts of ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions — seem to do very lit­tle of it. When is the last time you saw an ad for Big Box Store A warn­ing you that Big Box Store B sells in­fe­rior prod­ucts at in­flated prices and its work­force poli­cies are bad for Amer­ica?

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