Today’s Regrettable Campaign Ad

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This election cycle has been awash in oddball campaign ads, from Alan Grayson’s summer blockbuster-themed spot to Rick Barber’s Tea Party seance to anything involving Alabama ag commissioner candidate Dale Peterson. Today’s entrant in the genre comes courtesy of Dan Freilich, a Democratic Senate candidate in Vermont. As inveterate TV watchers will likely recognize, it’s a woeful spoof of the Old Spice ads featuring Isaiah Mustafa, a former NFL receiver. Those spots, which quickly went viral, were mildly amusing, especially if you grade leniently against the corporate ad realm’s soft humor curve. This one is…something else. It follows Freilich as he quaffs maple syrup, rides a cow and jogs beneath a rainbow through picturesque Vermont landscapes. Other than a pledge to serve no more than two terms, it’s bereft of policy ideas. The rest is standard, vacuous campaign fare accusing primary opponent Patrick Leahy of being a “career politician” beholden to special interest groups. On the other hand, there’s a cow involved. And a funny accent.

This isn’t the only gimmick to which Freilich, a physician and former Navy Captain, has resorted in his quest to oust the popular, long-serving Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. According to the AP, Freilich totes a cardboard cutout featuring Leahy’s likeness–replete with a lapel button reading “Have you seen me?”–to campaign events. Freilich may be betting that gimmicks represent his best hope. Leahy’s $3.2 million war chest dwarfs Freilich’s; the challenger has raised some $66,000, and had less than $1,000 left on hand at the time of his last filing.