Denver Direct: “I See By Your Outfit That You are a Cowboy” – from The Streets of Laredo

Monday, October 4, 2010

“I See By Your Outfit That You are a Cowboy” – from The Streets of Laredo

(Ed. note: I made my first professional movie in 1970 (Winter’s Isle – sold to CBC) while I was an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. I taught a course entitled “Control of Human Behavior”. On the first day of class, I showed a movie called “King Video”. It was a documentary examination of video advertising using then-current TV ads. Unfortunately, this film has not endured, as I cannot even find it on IMDB.

Since that time, I have been an observer of trends in TV advertising, most recently concentrating on political ads. It is thus that I reflect on the ads of John Hickenlooper, now Denver mayor and candidate for governor.)

I pay a lot of attention to the ad’s produced by political candidates. Senator Bennet’s first ads, for example, were so bad that they actually hurt the candidate. It was hard to imagine who thought those ads were good.

Hickenlooper, from the beginning of his political career, has gone for the cute approach in his ads – motor scootering, jumping out of airplanes, dancing with giant red letters, etc. He has avoided any statement of policy, relying instead on “the cute” to carry the day. In this election cycle, his quick-change-artist-in-the-shower ad continued that tradition. But what is the intent of the latest ad – “Rodeo”?

I understand that Hickenlooper has majority support in Denver and Colorado Springs, but is about even in the rest of this vast state where the real cattle ranching takes place. Is this ad aimed at the ranchers and farmers? If so, I should relate the reaction of one such rancher – “phoney, not real, could not climb a fence, sickening”. Surely this is not the desired reaction.

Here is the ad, followed by actual footage of Hickenlooper on horseback.