I have seen some memorable television ads in my time. I remember Speedy Alka-Seltzer and the old lady that liked hamburgers but was constantly asking, "Where's the beef?" I remember Santa riding over the snow on a Norelco shaver and Joe Willie Namath shaving his legs with Noxzema shaving cream. And yes, I was as touched as you all were when Mean Joe Greene gave his jersey to that little kid.
You get the picture. Madison Avenue earns billions each year by creating ads that they hope will be memorable and will influence us to buy their products or -- in election years, such as this one -- vote for a particular candidate or proposition. Some of the information on some of the political ads might even be true, but if so, it is probably by mere happenstance.
Honesty compels me to admit that I don't remember many political ads and I don't pay attention to a lot of them because they are so full of lies and half-truths that they are meaningless to a person who has half a brain and can actually think for himself.
I do remember one particular political ad, however. It only ran once, but boy was it effective. The year was 1964 and Lyndon Johnson was running against Republican challenger Barry Goldwater, the Arizona senator who was slightly to the right of John Birch.
We were in the middle of the Cold War and things were heating up in Vietnam. Goldwater's answer to all foreign policy questions seemed to be "Nuke 'em 'til they glow," at least according to his critics. That is a dangerous policy nowadays and it was a dangerous policy then -- thus the aforementioned ad.
It featured a precious little blonde-haired girl, sitting in a field of daisies. She was pulling petals off a daisy and chanting to herself, "He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me, he loves me not." We've all done some variation of that. Suddenly the whole screen went white for several seconds before the cameras panned backwards, revealing a large mushroom cloud, of the nuclear warhead variety.
The message was clear. Could we trust the hawkish Barry Goldwater with our nation's future? The folks who put that campaign together knew a little bit about their target audience, I would say.
Now I told you that to tell you this. I saw a political advertisement on television earlier this week. The only reason I watched it was because I couldn't find the remote control in time to change the channel. I am glad I did, however, and I have, in fact, watched that same ad a few times now. After multiple viewings I have come to the conclusion that the folks who made that particular advertisement are pretty out of touch with a large number of the people who are watching it on television.
The ad concerns the upcoming T-SPLOST referendum. Most people have very little understanding concerning the T-SPLOST. All most people know is that if it passes we will pay an extra penny sales tax for the next 10 years and that our county will put more into the kitty than we take out for local road improvements.
Now that doesn't mean that we won't derive benefits because as supporters of the tax point out, most of us will travel into the areas of metro Atlanta that get the lion's share of the money and we can use the transportation that our funds provide when we do.
But back to this ad. It features a great big wad of tangled highways and rail lines and road signs and says something along the lines of "It's time to untangle DeKalb and Rockdale." Then it shows bumper to bumper traffic barely eking along -- presumably on roads leading from one of those counties into the other.
Here's the kicker. Then the ad shows a list of the "advantages" of voting for the bill. The first reason is to provide better access on MARTA rail and buses. Yeah, that's what I want to see. More MARTA access.
Also, there will be improvements to Panola Road, another huge selling point with me since I spend so much time on Panola Road. Plus, and this is the best yet -- improved access to Stonecrest Mall. Glory! I wonder if I can vote more than once. We get to spend a lot more money, for 10 years, and create better MARTA access and make it easier for DeKalb County folks to make their way out to Stonecrest. Win, win, win!
It isn't exactly a nuclear bomb landing on a little girl in a field of daisies, but I think the ad will be very, very effective -- especially for convincing me and my friends to turn out in droves -- to vote against T-SPLOST.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.