2 Thumbs Up For Daniels’ Cinematic Ad

POSTED IN news May 23, 2008

Written by: Mathew Tully from IndyStar.com

In Indiana political circles, it has become known as "the movie trailer ad." It's a fitting title for Gov. Mitch Daniels' latest campaign commercial, a visually simple but stunning 60-second piece of work that makes you feel as if you're sitting in a dark theater watching a preview for the latest Will Smith blockbuster.

"Mitch, the Sequel," perhaps?

Some of Daniels' critics, not surprisingly, have knocked the ad, saying it exaggerates the governor's accomplishments, even as they acknowledge its stylistic strengths. The governor's supporters, again not surprisingly, call it an example of how he does things differently from other politicians.

Here's my review, offered in the style of movie poster blurbs: "A big thumbs up." "Four stars." "You must see this ad!"

My apologies for the exuberance. But after watching all those boring and cliched TV ads this spring from presidential, gubernatorial and congressional candidates, it's nice to see someone offer something different.

Quite different, at that.

If you haven't seen the commercial, here's a summary:

  • With thumping background music that sounds like (but isn't) the soundtrack to "Pirates of the Caribbean," the commercial kicks off with a black screen. Suddenly, words in green and white letters begin floating toward the TV. "Just 3 Years" and "A World of Change" come first.
  • With heavy drumbeats and a pounding symphony leading the way, more words push toward the screen: "From Bankruptcy To Balanced Budgets. . . . Record Breaking Job Creation."
  • As you watch, you keep waiting for that guy who narrates all the movie previews to jump in.
  • He doesn't. Instead, the ad contains only music and more written blips: "Prescription Drug Costs Slashed." "More Children Being Immunized." "More Children in Full Day Kindergarten." Daniels' controversial lease of the Indiana Toll Road is cautiously summed up as "Record Breaking Road Building. No New Taxes. No New Debt."

Dozens of jobs announcements flash on the screen along with other policy wins. Then, the ad offers a promise (or, depending on your view of the governor, a warning): "And We're Just Getting Started."

Finally, as the music reaches its crescendo, a series of words — "Courage. Vision. Results. Mitch Daniels, Change That's Working." — appear and float away like the opening scene in "Star Wars."

Campaign spokesman Cam Savage said the idea was to create one ad that "tied all (of Daniels') accomplishments together." The reviews, he said, have been glowing. (You can view it for yourself on the campaign's Web site: www.mymanmitch.com.)

"In all the years I've been around politics, I've never seen an ad get this kind of positive response," Savage said.

The governor's critics might not like the ad. But it's clearly a striking piece. More than anything, it's proof that if you're willing to make tough choices, you'll have plenty to put on the screen after your first term.

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