Don’t Stop (Believing)

In a history seminar my senior year, my professor asked the class if we thought ads were manipulative, and then asked if we felt manipulated by them. Sometimes self-awareness is useless: everyone raised their hands to both questions.

The story reminds me of my reaction to the Hillary Clinton ad.

For an official interpretation of why the ad works, I recommend The Washington Post. For me, the Sopranos references align so well with the country’s relationship with the Clintons. Hillary saying “remember the good times” echoes the Sopranos’s series finale, but also parallels how she wants Americans to think about the Clintons. Sure, there was Monica, health care, the lack of peace in the Middle East, but who didn’t have a great time in the 90s with Bill in office and Hillary on the wings? The Chelsea/Meadow parallel parking joke works in the same way. We’ve known Chelsea since she was 13. From braces to the gawker stalker, we’ve watched her grow up and she’s been a great first kid. Even Bill and Hill’s bad acting is winning.

The ad is supposed to make Hillary appealing to the average voter. And it does, but Clinton gets points from me for the ad’s artistry and understanding of the new importance of YouTube. Or maybe I’m just rationalizing just how well the ad has manipulated me.

Before this week, Barack Obama had almost accidentally been winning the YouTube campaign front with user-generated spots like Vote Different and I Gotta a Crush … On Obama. But in 90 seconds, Hillary reminds us how a Clinton campaign rolls. I hope they’re making The War Room 2.