Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2

I read Matt's initial post about the Adwatch project and thought "cool!" but with little expectation that I'd participate because my own schedule. Then, on Monday evening as I'm watching TDS and The Cobert Report, I see the following Brian Schatz ad, not once, but twice. (Once during each show.) Brian Schatz is running for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district. This is the district that Ed Case currently represents, but is leaving to run against fellow Democrat Sen. Akaka.

The ad really struck me, not for its production values which are truly minimal, but for the messaging/talking points. Its as if he and his team read an embodied Chris Bowers' Democratic Congressional Challengers Strategy Memo.

Further the ad was very targeted to the cable broadcast of TDS and The Cobert report where is likely to find a receptive audience.

Let's do a run down of the ad and Chris Bowers' memo:
  1. Iraq must be central in your campaign and you must blame Republicans for it

    Check! In fact, he lays the blame squarely on Bush's shoulders. Then he does it one better by directly linking the failed war in Iraq to hurting our security and further preventing us from addressing important issues such as education and health care.

  2. The debate on whether Bush is a competent, trustworthy President is over.

    Check! From the ad - "Its time to stop Bush's tough guy act."

    Hits the point, and does it with a dose of ridicule. Love it.

  3. Republicans cannot run against Bush and Iraq... But dissent will, in fact, work to Democratic candidates' advantage. It shows strength and, most importantly, principle and personal values.

    Check! The entire ad is a dissent of the current, failed policies and a call for to action for something different.

  4. 'Terrorism' scares only work in the absence of strong accountability messaging,

    Check. Not as explicitly strong here as the previous points, but still its covered. Paraphrasing - "We wont have security here till we fix the failed policies in Iraq." Accountability and blame in one sentence.

  5. Oversight beats withdrawal

    Check. Same comment as point 4. Though withdrawal is never actually mentioned.

  6. Pick a fight, any fight

    Check! The candidate says Iraq is a failure and is hurting us, Bush is wrong and is posing as a tough guy.
OK, some down sides:
  • The ad, his web site ( and campaign signs fail to mentioned or downplay that he is a Democrat. I'm not quite sure what this is about. The only possibility that I can think of is that it makes it more likely for Republicans to hear his message instead of instantly ignoring it.
  • The production values are truly minimal. In today's world of slick ads, this one somewhat sticks out for being so simple. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but after seeing the fun that Lamont had with his ads or the messaging combined with production values of the Spitzer ads, its hard not to want a bit more on the production value side of things.
  • And finally, what can only be called nitpicking - what with the twitching eyebrow?
Anyway, take a look at the ad yourself:

  Brian Schatz for Congress


Tags: Adwatch, Brian Schatz, Hawaii, Sen Akaka (all tags)



Re: Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2

Nice job!!

by jzilliac 2006-08-23 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2

I really liked the way Shatz takes the fight to Bush on his home turf. But is he a Democrat? I didn't see it mentioned anywhere in the ad and Howard Dean says only Republicans are running away from their party this year.

by Sitkah 2006-08-23 10:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2

Yes he is a Democrat. It is not prominent on his web site, but it does explicitly say he is a Democrat. See: ml

I initially found it surprising (and a bit disappointing) but I think I can understand the rationale for Hawaii. The military has a very big presence here and while Hawaii reliably votes Democratic, there is a very strong conservative component to Hawaii.*

Given all of this, I think the rationale must be that not mentioning his affiliation might enable traditionally Republican voters to hear his message before making up their mind. That's just pure speculation though. I plan to speak with his campaign tomorrow to get the lowdown.


* I live in Kailua, on the windward side of Oahu. Check out where campaign $'s wen in 2004. play.asp?street=&zip=96734&zip4= 4808&show_metro_stats=TRUE

by mjs 2006-08-24 12:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2

I think I can understand the rationale

I've heard enough rationales for Democrats hiding from their their own party in a year when Republicans should be the ones hiding from theirs.

It isn't Shatz's fault, but the DC political wizards who have obviously formulated and coordinated the "stealth Democrat" strategy that so many are employing should have realized that this year is the biggest and perhaps only chance for a while to rebuild the Democratic Party's maligned image.

And all it would take is to say, "This is what's wrong. My opponent is Bush Republican who caused it or wants to keep it going. I'm Democrat who will fix it."

But just about all DCDemocrats and their consultant class know how to play anything is defense -- poorly.

by Sitkah 2006-08-24 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2

We read your posting and took your point.  It is now prominently displayed on the home page of the Web site that Brian Schatz is a proud democrat.  We were not able to fix the eyebrow problem.  

Linda Schatz
(Brian's wife)

by lindaschatz 2006-08-25 10:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2

Hi Linda,

Being impressed with the ad, I'm really curious if you were familiar with MyDD and Matt & Chris' positioning recommendations or if you reached the same conclusion on you own?

FYI - I called and left a msg on Thursday to ask about the campaign.


ps: apologies for the eyebrow comment. :-)

by mjs 2006-08-26 02:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Adwatch: Brian Schatz for Congress, HI-2
Thank you so much for posting this information.  I have seen Schatz's commercials and wondered what party he was from.  I listen to Thom Hartman on Air America radio often, and he has pointed out that some Republicans have been running ads in Oregon, denouncing Bush, and leaving their party affiliation off.  Naturally when I heard Schatz ad I wondered if he was doing the same.  I was happy to learn he was a member of the Democratic party.  I will check him out some more.
cartoons with a progressive edge
by what now toons 2006-08-27 08:53PM | 0 recs


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