Iowans won’t be seeing too many TV ads for Novembers’s municipal races, most of which are relatively low-profile affairs where not a whole lot of money spent. But one of the few they will watch is really quite good and a “refreshing” change of pace from the typical campaign ads we’ve come to expect.
Josh Mandelbaum is up on television in the Des Moines media market with a 30-second ad entitled “Refreshing” two and a half weeks out from the city council election. It highlights his work as an environmental attorney on the issue of clean drinking water in a clever way. Mandelbaum sits at a kitchen table with two pitchers of water, one with clean drinking water from Des Moines and one with dirty water from the river upstream.
“As an enviornmental attorney, Josh built a career taking on polluters,” a female voice-over says. The narrator briefly mentions his other policy ideas for the Des Moines City Council (roads, public safety and accessibility) and encourages viewers to visit his website to read more about them.
“But on the one issue we can’t get wrong, Josh is the one candidate uniquely qualified to make sure we keep getting it right,” the voice adds as Mandelbaum inspects the water.
The end is certainly cheesy – an expressive “ahh” after taking a drink – but that’s part of the appeal. It presents a friendly, unassuming-looking guy running for public office who has significant experience on a key issue that’s been in the headlines this past year. It’s also probably one of the only political ads I’ve seen where it effectively pitches someone’s career as an attorney in a positive way. That’s an accomplishment in itself.
Most importantly, it just looks different. For decades we’ve seen Iowa politicians walk through corn fields, stand on tractors, smile at parents and kids on playgrounds and watch as a blue collar worker makes sparks fly welding machinery. The candidate or a voice-over mentions three poll-tested platitudes and that’s it. Eventually it just all becomes background noise.
The race for Des Moines City Council Ward 3 is a nonpartisan race, but if more Democratic candidates could break away from the cookie cutter ads in favor of these creative ones, maybe voters would pay more attention to their campaigns.
The election for Ward 3 is November 7.
by Pat Rynard