NJ’s best (& worst) political ads. Dem Party edition!

With a month and a half to go until election day, you’re likely noticing a spate of political ads popping up on your screen/s. If you haven’t yet, fret not, you’ll be bombarded with them soon enough. In the meantime, let’s grade some of the best (and worst) campaign ads to emerge ahead of NJ’s 2017 election.

A+

Steve Fulop’s ad for another hitch as Jersey City mayor is easily the best campaign ad of this season. And it was obvious to anyone who saw, that the real battle was gonna be for second place.

The ad begins with Fulop brandishing a beach chair, an obvious riff on Chris Christie’s humiliating day at the shore last summer.  That clever jibe provided the thematic arc as Fulop was photographed in said beach chair boosting his city (and indirectly, his accomplishments as Mayor.)

I actually learned something by watching this ad. Did you know Jersey City has farmers markets in every neighborhood?

This ad was the perfect combination of self-deprecation and shade. All while spreading a very positive message about Jersey City. It was truly the perfect 30 second vignette.

Fulop gets extra credit for showing off a more casual, slightly humorous side. And those vintage adidas were on point.

 

A-

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker won his 2015 campaign to represent NJ’s 16th Legislative District by a razor-thin margin.  Just 78 votes separated victory from defeat as Zwicker upset then-incumbent Donna Simon by a hair. I forgot now close that race was until looking it up just now and DAMN! That’s a squeaker!!

And guess what? Ms Simon is back for a rematch, setting the stage for another potential photo-finish.

Good thing Zwicker’s ad game is dialed in.

Zwicker, a Princeton physicist by trade, is very well-served by this clever ad which showcases his mostly adorable, slightly goofy brand of wonkiness.  I loved the beakers and the test tubes and how he smashed the frozen watermelon in a very athletic way. Ad was fast-paced and very creative.

Solid message too. We’re reminded that we want smart people in office. And that, in a room filled with lawyers, having a data-driven scientist on hand is generally beneficial.

 

B+

When you’re running the most competitive, hotly-conteted and closely-watched race of the season, you better bring it. That’s what NJ Senate candidate Vin Gopal did in this ad highlighting his deep Monmouth County roots. He’s in a dogfight against NJ GOP Senator Jen Beck to represent NJ’s 11th legislative district.

The best thing about this video is that Vin really sells it. Mind you it’s largely the same old bromide But I believed every word.

I really love how Vin actually mentions by name some of the towns in his district. Major bonus points for that. Politicians and their gerrymandering make it hard for citizens to know which districts they’re in sometimes. A reminder almost never hurts.

The sad ladies on the porch bit, that was curious given the otherwise cheerful, optimistic tenor of this one. I guess they’re sad because they’re paying NJ property taxes.

But all-in-all a very solid outing for Vin Gopal.

 

B

This video of NJ Assembly hopefully Roy Freiman is downright adorable. He’s Andrew Zwicker’s running mate in LD16.

The premise: brother and sister mock their dad in a sweet awkward way. Each super-corny dad joke punctuated by a loving, if slightly pained, reaction from Freiman’s kids.

To whit: Q: What do you call Roy Freiman drinking a soda? A: Fizz-cal responsibility.

Oy, right? And yet, somehow, totally lovable!

My big pet peeve with this video is the choice of font. Heads should roll for that. It’s unforgivable..

 

Phil Murphy’s campaign to succeed NJ Governor Chris Christie kicked of with this intro video.  Two things stand out in this slickly-produced piece: 1) Phil’s elementary school pics and 2) how much he looks like his father.

Phil Murphy’s campaign has played it safe, nursing their ample lead and basically riding out the clock until election day. This carefully-calibrated video is a reflection of that same play-it-safe philosophy.

 

C-

Colin Bell’s ad for Senate in LD2 is the pits.

If this were Fashion Week and I was a writer for Vogue I’d say something bitchy and clever like, “Oh good heavens i’ve seen this exact same thing come down the runway every year since the Reagan Administration!”

Seriously though, this ad is a steaming bouillabaisse of every cliche you’ll ever find in a campaign ad: in the ad, Bell reads a scrip dubbed over boilerplate B-Roll  of the candidate vamping for the camera: the walk and talk, chat with person on the porch, lots hand waving. Why do politicians wave their hands and arms so vigorously in political ads? I’m only asking because it looks ridiculous.

If I were Colin Bell, I’d print this out, and send it to whoever made this TV spot. On it,  two words written in red Sharpie: DO BETTER!

 

Jay Lassiter is an iconoclast, tech savvy media artiste, street warrior for LGBT liberty and marijuana reform, and an un-intimidated presence if the halls of Trenton power as he aggressively pursues liberal causes. He’s often at brunch and always on twitter @Jay_Lass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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