If Bill Halter’s most recent ad was a second lesson in “it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear,” Blanche Lincoln’s new ad could serve as a case study in what happens when you don’t follow that rule. At the very least, it presents a nice opportunity to compare and contrast the two ads.
The first thing I noticed was a marked difference in who each ad was about. Halter’s ad started with “We tried to tell them;” Lincoln’s kicks off with “I’m Blanche Lincoln, and I know that you are mad at Washington.” The inclusive language of Halter’s ad, where he is an implied part of the “we” who are fighting “them” could not be further from Lincoln’s standoffish message, where she knows that YOU are mad at Washington (but does not suggest that she shares that anger).
Halter’s ad shows seven people of various races and in various settings to emphasize the collective nature of “we.” Lincoln’s ad features only her and speaks continually in terms of “I.” She is being attacked. She is fighting “Washington unions” and Wall St. She won’t back down. She would rather lose than compromise what’s “right for Arkansas.” She’s spent much of this campaign complaining about certain attacks being “divisive,” yet, in this last ad to appeal to Arkansas voters, her own language needlessly creates a division between her and everyone else.
Perhaps the biggest difference, though, was the tone of each ad. Halter’s ad strikes an optimistic populist chord about how we can fix all of these problems by changing who we send to Washington, and it brags about seeing “signs of change” on the horizon. Lincoln’s ad, on the other hand, reeks of a depressing desperation, where she’s being attacked because, doggone it, she just cares TOO much, and she would rather lose than change this. In fact, I stand corrected — the biggest difference is as simple as this: Halter’s ad talks about how things will improve if he wins, while Lincoln’s ad whines about how she’s prepared to lose.
Finally, as Blue Arkansas noted, how did the fact that you can see Ms. Lincoln’s bra through her shirt go unnoticed?