Posted by: David Kiley on April 2, 2008
Senator Hillary Clinton’s speechwriter’s and ad team need to take up writer and TV personality Dick Cavett’s suggestion of hiring a first-rate comedy writer.
The Senator has released yet another “3AM”ad, only this time she suggests that the call in the middle-of-the night is about the U.S. economy. Again, we see the sights of sleeping children. The phone rings throughout the ad, with the voiceover suggesting that Republican presumptive nominee John McCain would just let it ring. Hillary, at the end of the ad, is seen talking on the phone. To the Chinese? The Fed Chairman? Her Accountant?
The 3AM ad that ran in Texas before that state’s primary, suggesting that Clinton was the president you want answering the phone in the middle of the night in the face of a national security threat, has become thee stuff of lampoon and parody. This has especially been the case since her gaffe (it was really just a case of blarney if you consider it was March 17 and she was wearing a shamrock scarf) about ducking sniper fire in Bosnia.
But Clinton ad meister Mark Penn decided, “Let’s do the 3AM thing again.” While I think the ad will get lampooned, the fact that she reprised the premise will, I suspect, accomplish one thing—lots of free airings on cable news.
Clinton is running out of money and being outspent in Pennsylvania six-to-one by Barack Obama. If she had simply run a traditional ad about her ability to salve the economy with Presidential policy and leadership, it might not get picked up by TV producers. That she had the nerve to go back to the 3AM idea will probably guarantee multiple free airings on MSNBC, CNN, Fox and local Pennsylvania TV stations.
From a sheer creative standpoint, the ad feels a bit like her comments this week on April 1 where she challenged Obama to a bowling match to settle the nomination. She started out well, dead-pan, and when she delivered the bowl-off punch line she should have ended it.
I’ll even give her the extra punch-line where she hoped the Obama campaign would finally get out of the gutter. But then she kept the joke going a few minutes too long. It was painful. Maybe the Obama surrogates are right. Clinton’s problem may be that she doesn’t know when to get off the stage.
A good comedy writer would help her know when to get away on a high note.