There are no demon sheep in this advertisement; nor derisive comparisons of Barack Obama to Paris Hilton. But the quirky political ad man who produced those two cult classics has introduced another memorable spot. This one, an eight-minute opus casting Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Cali.) as some sort of self-obsessed, Orwellian, hot air-balloon creature, floating maliciously through the skies of California.
The mind behind the madness is Fred Davis, a longtime GOP consultant whose quirky takes on traditional political advertising has placed him in the spotlight almost as often as his clients. In this case, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is the one writing Davis' check and getting some unconventional, attention-grabbing and political puzzling spots in return.
More than a month ago, the visual oddity Davis produced was a man posing as a demon sheep amidst a pure flock, a metaphor for the fiscal unsoundness of Fiorina's Senate primary opponent, Tom Campbell. On Saturday, in anticipation for the California Republican Party convention, Davis morphed Boxer's head into a foreboding blimp, in an effort to savage the Senator as an spotlight-seeking partisan.
WATCH THE FULL AD HERE:
Titled, "Hot Air," the ad's messaging and imagery is hardly subtle. There is the Hitchcock-inspired shot of the Capitol building with menacing birds swarming around it; the images of Boxer as a young pol, enjoying the "warm bask of attention"; the California Democrat's head expanding to ungodly proportions, bursting the Capitol dome into pieces; and then a talking Boxer blimp casting a shadow over her home state until it's punctured by a needle and falls like a bomb into the Pacific. There is even a gratuitous scene of fingernails scratching against a chalkboard -- which Davis likely included because actually calling Boxer shrill on camera would have be too outrageous and controversial.
The whole spot is bizarre to the point of hilarity -- which, it should be noted, is by design -- with clichéd charges of elitism and egotism, and a downright comic non sequitur between the stimulus package, terrorism and climate change.
NARRATOR: Since this stimulus unemployment in California has climbed to over 12 percent, the worst since the end of the Great Depression. Our national debt is now over $12 trillion. Homegrown terrorist opening fire and killing soldiers on an American military base. Foreign terrorists, trying to blow an American airplane on Christmas Day. And what does Barbara Boxer say is a national security threat?
BOXER: One of the very important national security issues we face frankly is climate change.
To its credit, roughly half of the spot is devoted to Fiorina's record and biography. But it's a highly selective portrait. Rather than mentioning her firing from the board of Hewlett Packard and the steep drop in the company's stock during her tenure as CEO, the spot simply announces that she "leaned the company to profitability."
Boxer's campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski weighed in on the ad Saturday. "Not even another bizarre video can distract voters from Fiorina's record as a failed CEO who laid off 28,000 workers and shipped California jobs overseas. While Fiorina spends time producing works of fiction, Barbara Boxer is focused on creating good jobs in California and getting our economy back on track."