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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The Perils of outside ads

The Perils of outside ads

As I recover from my sinus infection and pound water, I realized exactly how flawed the now infamous Club for Growth ad truly was, and only someone who is either from New England or lived there for a while would get it.

Coffee, as a rule, is insanely popular in New England. Not in the New York, blue cup with lid kind of way, but is firmly implanted in the culture. If you drive around any New England town, you will notice one institution which must exist. One institution which even the smallest child able to speak would recognize, like McDonald's or Chuck E. Cheese.

People may not realize it now, in an era of mass marketing and corporate buyouts, but most of the "fast food" places we eat at were regional chains. Taco Bell, California, White Castle, the midwest, Sonic, the South. We don't think much about it now, but the Americanization of fast food is really the story of spreading regional tastes adapted for wider palates.

Now, this error, which you'll recognize, didn't really hit me at first. Sure, you can mock people for eating at Starbucks because the coffee is mediocre, at least to me, and while some genius in Washington may think that you can knock down Howard Dean a peg or two by depicting him as some kind of out of touch liberal. But there's a problem with that, especially in the context of New England. And why you would be very careful in using images to depict class differences.

Howard Dean, like every other New Englander, drinks his coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures of Howard Dean with one of those infamous pink, orange and white cups clasped in his hand. Sure, he might have had a cup of Starbucks now and then, but at every road project, opening, school meeting, football game, tournament, and damn near anything else held between the Hudson and the Atlantic, Howard Dean's coffee of choice is Dunkin Donuts. Unless he's a coffee fiend, I bet he's got a bag or two on his kitchen counter.

There is no public event in New England, unless it's catered, where Dunkin Donuts does not lurk. If there's a bake sale, an orange and pink box is lurking.

This may seem like a minor detail, until you realize the gaffe. The CFG wants to depict Dean as Dukakis II, yet, no one in the ad company which made the ad realized why you wouldn't jump on him for drinking Starbucks. Because he's got the evidence to show him doing otherwise, in every setting imaginable. The Bush I people never tried to depict Clinton, who had a better education than Dean, in such a way because of the visual evidence against it. Gore was such a creature of Washington that they didn't need to do such a thing.

But here, this kind of ad is so easy to refute, so easy to explain away, you have to wonder if these people actually thought about it. You can believe too much of your own propaganda.

posted by Steve @ 8:19:00 PM

8:19:00 PM

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