When a gimmick works

Mr. Fix Chris Cillizza asks rhetorically if this is the best positive ad of the cycle: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yv_g7ZyADM&feature=player_embedded]

Unlike the last video, this ad is a gimmick that works. What's the difference? At the most basic level this ad works because while it is a gimmick, there is something truthful about it. It's authentic to the candidate, so the form says something about him.  It reinforces his image as not an everyday politician and it goes to the public's desire to see government work instead of fight. The fact that it's an easy pledge for him to make given the nature of his race is immaterial to the ad.

Here's the Hickenlooper ad from his run for mayor:


Now if John Kerry of John McCain tried or Andrew Cuomo tried to be this quirky so voters could "relate" to them, it would be an abject failure.  It works for Hickenlooper because the guy is goofy.

I agree with most of Chris' analysis of the ad, though I do take exception to his final point, "it provides a broad thematic blueprint of what to say and how to say it for candidates -- incumbents and challengers alike -- dealing with a very volatile electorate."

This ad works for Hickenlooper, the themes work for his race and candidacy, someone else running along similar themes may or may not work.

The broader point I would make is this: with a volatile electorate, it is especially important that you run ads that are honest and authentic, that can resonate and connect with the voting public. If you can do it with humor and entertainment all the better, but more importantly, as Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self be true."