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Leave U.S. alone

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If you don’t live in a swing state this election, like I do, well, I’m sorry. You’re missing out on some hilarious low-production, insanely hyperbolic campaign ads.

Also, congratulations. You’re missing out on some hilarious low-production, insanely hyperbolic campaign ads.

I really don’t understand the point of campaign commercials. They only come in two flavors. The most popular seems to be Scary Black-And-White Ad, which shows a montage of clipped-out headlines and photos of a candidate’s rival, usually in various states of pointing a finger and yelling. An Ashamed Voice Lady tells us kind-of facts about Rival Candidate supporting things no one likes, such as waterboarding old people or closing ice cream parlors.

The other kind, which seems more popular with local candidates, is always in color and involves the candidate talking about folksy things while doing exciting Everyday American activities, like driving a car or holding hands with a random child. If this candidate is from Colorado, these activities usually involve a bolo tie, a Western shirt and/or a horse.

It’s hard to believe any voters, or at least any significant number of voters, decide who to elect to America’s top leadership roles based even partly on these low-budget, 30-second propaganda bytes. Yet, TIME magazine reports both the Obama and Romney campaigns, as well as their super PACs, will spend a projected $1.1 billion on these ads before Election Day. And that number doesn’t even count ad spending at the local candidate/ballot issue level. So I’m either wrong, and these crappy commercials have tremendous swaying power, or all of our politicians know nothing about elections … or marketing, for that matter.

Even if these commercials are effective, they’re clearly only going to have an effect on that small percentage of voters who haven’t made up their minds yet, and I decided who I was voting for months ago. Which got me thinking, wouldn’t it be nice — for them and for me — if TV could target more effectively, and I could opt out? If there were some way I could tell the campaigns, “Look, I’ve already decided; leave me alone,” then all those low-budget campaign commercials would be replaced with the low-budget lawyer and carpet company ads I’ve come to know and love. The candidates wouldn’t waste their money on me, and I wouldn’t waste my time on them.

Actually, I’d kind of love it if I could do that with … well … everything I deem pesky, and — sorry, no offense — that includes dealing with my insurance agent. As it stands, I get direct mail reminders, frequent phone calls and sporadic e-mails from my agent throughout the year, and I only really need to deal with him annually. I know he’s trying to stay top of mind, and it does, sort of, remind me to get back in touch with him after a year goes by. But most of the time, his check-ins feel as unnecessary as those campaign ads. I might not be alone in this, judging from some of the negative stereotypes of insurance salespeople out there.

On the bright side, insurance agents — unlike television ads — can offer an opt-out. A couple of magazines I subscribe to send me annual notices that promise they won’t send me dozens of renewal reminders all year if I just re-up now, at the lowest rate they offer. What if my insurance agent did the same? At the end of our annual meeting, we could schedule our next meeting, for a year in the future, as long as he’d promise not to send me mailers, e-mails and unnecessary voice mails the rest of the year. Or maybe he’d make that promise if I agreed to follow him on Facebook or Twitter instead. I’d happily enjoy a semi-empty mailbox all year, and he could spend his postcard budget on reaching new prospects instead of overwhelming people like me.

Of course, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe there are loads of people basing their votes on flim-flam commercials and their insurance purchases on flimsy postcards. But I really hope not.

Oh, and I’m Corey Dahl, and I approve this message.

For more from Corey Dahl, see:

The Downside of YOLO

Fall Forward

Life Agents: This Isn’t 1776


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