On the day the national unemployment rate was cut to 7.8 percent, Americans For Prosperity (AFP) on Friday released what may be one of the most attention-grabbing and unconventional ads of the 2012 election cycle.
The ad is titled “Dinner Table” and features a recently unemployed father trying to eat dinner with his worried wife and two kids. The only sounds that can be heard are the tinkling of utensils as the family unnervingly pokes at their food. It is a scene that has been played in real life in millions of homes across America during the Great Recession and the so-called recovery.
After 23 seconds, the ad, which was created, written, and directed by Jon Kahn, then fades to a black-and-white question on the screen: “12.1 million Americans unemployed. Isn’t it time to try something different?”
“Our latest ad hits you right in the gut,” said AFP Director of Marketing Mike Harinstein. “Too often, job statistics and rhetoric gloss over the gritty reality of American families who are suffering in this economy.”
In an age when television viewers have been conditioned to filter out cookie-cutter political ads that feature scary narrators and random statistics, this ad sucks the viewer in with its jarring lack of spoken words.
After the ad gets the viewer’s attention, it makes a visceral appeal and enables the viewer to feel the pain, anxiety, fear, and heartbreak of the family of four at the dinner table before making a powerful point about the country needing to “try something different.”
Tim Phillips, President of AFP, said the “big-government policies of this administration have left more Americans out of work for longer than under the last 11 Presidents combined.”
In September, only 114,000 jobs were created and if the labor force was the same size (many workers have lost hope and left the labor force) as when Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be 10.7%. In addition, 12.1 million Americans are unemployed with 4.8 million of those having been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.
Levi Russell, AFP’s spokesperson, told Breitbart News he knew the ad, which he said fills the viewer “with the same nausea and anxiety millions of families are facing every night,” would resonate with Americans after he played it for someone in his office.
Russell said the person who saw the ad told him, “the first time I saw it I felt uncomfortable. The second time I felt sick. The third I wanted to cry.”
“The President is out on the campaign trail gloating about unemployment dropping a couple tenths of a percent,” Russell said. “It’s sad that so often, the gritty reality of how American families are suffering in this economy is glossed over, or used as a campaign tool.”
AFP has been more willing than other organizations to take chances on and embrace outside-the-box advertisements and concepts that do not have “beltway consultants” written all over them, and that is why the organization has been able to get its message to slice through not only the mainstream media’s filter but an advertising landscape that is saturated with political commercials that look and sound the same.
“AFP is constantly pushing the envelope with new innovative ways to get our message out,” Russell told Breitbart News, noting that the group is sponsoring a rock concert with 3 Doors Down in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday night. “This ad is an example of our commitment to aggressively promote economic freedom to ever-widening audiences.”
Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, often says Republicans always lose moral and economic arguments they should win because while they are armed with statistics, they do not understand they only have five seconds to win moral arguments at the proverbial Thanksgiving dinner table.
In the first five seconds of this ad, which will likely be played on television screens before election day, the wife puts down her fork and the viewer, jarred by the clang, looks up to see the husband nervously glancing at her at the dinner table.
These five seconds do more than thirty minutes worth of statistics flashed across power point presentations to make Americans feel the pain Obama’s economy has wrought. And in so doing, the ad, which dared to be different, helps those who are tying to convince Americans to “try something different” win the argument — without uttering a word — about how Obama’s policies have not made America’s economy better.