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Richardson Ads Clever. But Not Presidential

Posted by: David Kiley on May 11, 2007


New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s presidential campaign has launched a couple of new ads that it’s put on and his website. These ads are very out of the ordinary for presidential campaigns, and differ markedly from those of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

The Richardson ads have the Governor applying for a job as president, sitting across the desk from a typical numbskull interviewer, portrayed as refugee from The Office. The interviewer is going over Richardson’s resume, which is easily the most extensive of any of the current Presidential candidates: Governor, U.N. ambassador, Energy Secretary and four time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. In one of the two spots, the interviewer suggests Richardson is over qualified to be President.

In another spot Richardson’s accomplishments as New Mexico Governor are reviewed in the interview: job creation, raising teacher’s pay, etc. And in another, available to view right here, he is depicted as a New Mexico Sherrif on horseback who gets things done.

It’s a very different approach from most political ads, which tend to be anthem and issue oriented, or negative against an opponent. But ads at this stage of the race should, I think, also make the candidate look Presidential. None of the candidates has ever been more than a Senator, Governor or Congressman. Okay, we do have one former First Lady, too.

And for purposes of fund raising and generating some excitement, these candidates have to start looking like they could be leader of the free world. Like it or not, presidential politics and campaigning is a lot about casting.

The media and the public are casting directors. That’s why former Senator Jim Gravel will never be president, and why Senator Sam Brownback will never garner more than low single digit support. People can’t envision such men striding into a room to the tune of “Hail To The Chief.” Indeed, none of the GOP candidates who said a few weeks ago that they don’t believe in evolution has a shot. I’ll hazard a guess and say that if George Bush had had that question in 2000, Al Gore would have been the 43rd president.

These ads by Richardson will get him some time on the media. I suspect CNN and MSNBC have already run them, or soon will. That’s good, because I suspect loads of people don’t know who he is, or know that he is even running. Getting attention is important. But so is looking like a President. And Richardson still has to work on that.

Reader Comments

Teresa Valdez Klein

May 11, 2007 1:38 PM

I understand where you're coming from, but I think you're off on this one. People are sick of business as usual.

I'm not a Richardson supporter, although I may become one. This ad put me closer to that, because it showed me that this is a person who is willing to take risks and level with people. I see that quality as more presidential than striding well to "Hail to the Chief."

After eight years of Bush -- who is an excellent strider -- I think people might be ready for a candidate who actually levels, not just pretends to.


May 13, 2007 8:09 AM

David, you may be right. However, when I viewed the ad, I found it very appealing. Perhaps it's because I was a Personnel Manager for many years (now it would be a Human Resources Manager). What so many of the candidates seem to lack is a sense of humor. The public says they are tired of scripted sound bites and want to see the candidates being themselves, but I'm beginning to wonder. It seems every time a candidate goes "off message" they are pilloried by the press. If Governor Richardson had listed his accomplishments resume fashion, would we listen?

Maribel Galindo

May 14, 2007 3:23 PM

Richardson’s ad is smart because he is portraying himself like any American job applicant competing for a vacancy. The ad might not make him look “presidential”, however it shows a problematic that over qualified workers face during in interview. On the other hand, exemplifying this issue promotes the sympathy of the American people because most of them have face the same situation during in interview, besides the objective of raising funds for the campaign, he does resemble any of us. Very smart ad, well-thought.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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