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The Making of a $60,000 Political Message for $600

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The Broken Record PSA

By Durnford King

Someone once described managing a group of Hollywood professionals working pro bono as trying to herd cats. It's much worse. It's like watching Humpty Dumpty fall off the top of the Chrysler Building and having to put him back together over and over again. I know because I just produced a 60 second spot that way.

In essence the Broken Record PSA is a frontal attack on one of the fundamental tenants of Republican economic philosophy -- that tax breaks for the wealthy will solve all our economic problems.

(actual ad is viewable at the end of this article)

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Working in front of the green screen

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Studio shoot over, the Gremlins attacked in full force. Technical problems resulted in a week of hair pulling delay. Finally they were solved and CGI production began.

As it turns out the Broken Record PSA is somewhat controversial. Suggesting that voting for the Democrats is an alternative to self-immolation does not play well in some corners. But I wasn't talking to those guys. It was the youth audience I was after. The kids who reportedly are disenchanted and not inclined to vote. They don't want to be condescended to. And they know BS when they see it.

Over the past several years I've had numerous conversations about how inept the Democrats are at messaging. They leave it to the Republicans to frame the debate and then, at election time, spend huge amounts of time and money trying to unframe it.

I see it as a combination of naivete' and old school idealism. It reminds me of those scenes in the movies where row upon row of English Redcoats march in perfect formation into a wall of enemy fire and are picked off one by one without getting off a shot themselves.

The Democrats have operated under the assumption that if they have a good idea all they have to do is explain it in great detail and the public will think it's fantastic and support it. Unfortunately this doesn't work.

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The Republicans on the other hand are masters at speaking to the "reptilian brain" -- the part that is non-intellectual and swayed by emotion. Few on the left wanted to hear this kind of talk until Drew Westen published his book, "The Political Brain", which explains the entire process in scientific terms.


Now it's now it's okay to state the obvious.

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I have been a writer, producer and director of television advertising for major clients. I have also directed and produced music videos and television specials and was nominated for an International EMMY for a special I created starring the (more...)

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The Making of a $60,000 Political Message for $600