Strategy ’08

Obama vs. the other guy, 2008

An ‘Alternate Reality’ Ad

The details are still a little unformed, but I’d love to see an ad like this (inspired by this post) running in Florida and Pennsylvania:

Montage of images summarizing past few months: Headlines about Bear Sterns’ implosion, Lehman’s bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch’s sale; footage of employees leaving their offices with boxes.

REPORTER: And the news out of Wall Street just keeps getting worse. Major investment banks have failed and the stock market has gone south, as millions of people have seen their stock portfolios dwindle to nothing.

Cut to images of senior citizens outside soup kitchens, moving back in with their adult children.

REPORTER: But none have been hit harder than those who invested their Social Security payments in the stock market after George Bush privatized the system back in 2005. Republicans promised that retirees would earn better returns in the market, but instead, by sacrificing guaranteed retirement benefits and gambling on the whims of the stock market, poverty rates among the elderly are now on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.

Abrupt cut to shot of Bush and McCain embracing.

VOICEOVER: Fortunately, this never happened. George Bush’s plan to privatize Social Security never passed. But if John McCain — who has called the current system for financing Social Security “a disgrace” — has his way, the Republicans will take another shot at gambling your Social Security benefits in the stock market.

Cut to black.

VOICEOVER: That’s a reality we shouldn’t have to face.


September 16, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. There won’t be an ad like this one.

    Comment by slinkerwink | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. But there should be. This is a great idea Greg.

    Comment by dansac | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. This is an ad that any American who has ANY savings can identify with. After yesterday’s 500 point drop of the stock market, this ad could not come at a better time. Let’s hope the Obama group picks up the idea.

    Comment by Tmarie | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  4. Hi, it’s a GREAT idea…needs to be tightened up…

    maybe link Phil Gramm to this…the Enron Loophole…

    Use all the graphics appropriate:

    “George Bush was not able to privatize Social Security, but with Phil Gramm and John McCain, they opened loopholes for speculators to irresponsibly drive up gas and housing prices …Now banks are failing, people are loosing their homes, people can’t afford to fill their tanks…and John McCain wants to gamble your Social Security benefits on a deregulated stock market…It’s time for sound economic policies that work for the American people. Make real change happen, Elect Obama-Biden.

    Comment by Dr. K Sogolow | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  5. One thing. That should be “But Democrats in Congress blocked Bush’s plan to privatize social security back then. Only now, John McCain wants to bring it back.”

    Comment by hammerquill | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  6. Right, so I commented on the wrong post. Let’s try this again:

    “I have to disagree with the commenters on DailyKos that want to remove the alternate reality aspect and change it into a “What if?” type ad.

    For me, that’s the most appealing part and it speaks to the one trouble that Obama’s ads have had going up against McCain’s. And that’s the fact they – generally – they’re not very bold.

    I think the original point of this ad was to be bold in a way that Obama’s haven’t been, and removing the alternate reality bait and switch also removes that boldness. In this modern media environment, ads don’t persuade voters and aren’t being used as such anymore. Instead, their purpose is to change the narrative. And they only do that when they are bold (re: Paris and Britney). So be bold, change the narrative and use ads to push the narrative where you want to go.”

    Comment by opensourcepundits | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  7. opensourcepundits, you completely get what I was going for. I’m not wedded to the alternate reality concept per se, but I absolutely think you have to move beyond the Obama team’s “messaging with a 2×4” approach. The way to get attack McCain’s support of privatization is NOT simply to repeat over and over “McCain supports privatization.” You need an original hook to help the ad break through the clutter, and also reach people on an emotional — rather than merely rational — level.

    Comment by gdh1 | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. re: those who invested their social etc in the stock market

    Would the Bush plan have allowed choice or would people have been forced to invest part of their money?
    If they would have had to, forced would be a stronger word.

    Comment by Jayne Smythe | September 17, 2008 | Reply

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