Type of Ad: Positive
Candidate: Anthony Hardy Williams
By: American Cities (Super PAC)
Title: "Proud of..."
The Basics: American Cities, the Super PAC financed by the wealthy partners at the Susquehanna International Group, makes its debut in the campaign with a positive Williams ad. FCC records indicate The Super PAC has begun placing buys for a week-long flight on local TV. Production was done by RSH Media, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that has 20 years of experience doing political media. You can see a 3-minute demo sample of their work here.
Crit: RSH says it "creates creative and compelling ads that not only are on message but are on emotion." That's a perfect summary this ad. It is a roots ad to the power of three, spending half its 30 seconds on the candidate's father, the late Sen. Hardy Williams. "Public service is a family business." says the female announcer over a sepia-tinted collage of pictures of the elder Williams. (Point to note: the ad also calls the candidate Anthony Hardy Williams throughout.) Offers lots of subliminal messages. Older voters recall that the candidate's father was the first African-American to make a serious run for mayor and is favorably remembered. Younger voters will get the distinct impression that the elder Williams was a giant among men. Midway, it switches to shots of the younger Williams, overlaid with a collage of pretty shots of schools, neighborhoods, a mural, etc. Soft piano music throughout, until an orchestra joins in a crescendo as the announcer, who has a great voice, says that Williams offers us "a city where hope thrives and poverty dies. (Pause) A city his father would be proud of..." It ends with a pianissimo tinkling of the keys. In short, it is a little heavy on the schmaltz, but it is effective.
Dueling ads: Super PACs such as American Cities aren't supposed to communicate at all with the candidate and this debut ad offers proof of that point. In a sense, it is competing with the Williams' campaign's own bio ad released earlier in the week. Frankly, it does a better job at the sell -- and the Williams campaign could have saved its money or chosen another topic. Then again, it doubles down on commercials that sell the candidate.
What Isn't Said: For starters, it doesn't say: This ad was paid for by the same rich suburban white guys who gave $5 million to Williams' campaign for governor five years ago. But, it isn't required to disclose the source of the money that paid for the ad. That task will be up to Williams' opponents.
Is the ad factual: Yes.
Overall Grade: A.