Campaigns use Web advertising to push issues

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(Host) Vermont’s gubernatorial candidates are using a new form of advertising in this year’s campaign: they’re producing ads for the Internet. As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, this form of advertising allows the campaigns to reach out to voters in a very timely manner.

(Kinzel) The Web ads are cheap to produce, can be put together in just a few hours and allow candidates to instantly respond to issues raised by their opponents.

This week the campaign of Republican incumbent Governor Jim Douglas produced a Web ad criticizing the health care plan of his Democratic challenger Peter Clavelle, within 12 hours of Clavelle’s press conference unveiling the proposal.

The first Web ad of the season was produced by the Douglas campaign and it featured a person going through a drive-in lane at a fast food restaurant. The theme was that Clavelle is person who’s likely to raise your taxes:

(Sound from ad)
“Welcome to Clavelle’s can I help you? How about serving of Pete’s higher property taxes?….”

(Kinzel) Douglas’s campaign manager Neale Lunderville says Web ads are an inexpensive way for them to get their message out and he says it’s an effective tool to attract new people to the party:

(Lunderville) “If people like them they say, Well this is great – I’m going to send it to everybody on my e-mail list. So the viral marketing effect of the Web does allow you to reach a lot of people off your list that may not otherwise be on it. And it’s a great tool to get my people to come back to your Web site and sign up for your list.”

(Kinzel) The Democrats fired right back. Their Web ad tries to reinforce the connection between Douglas and the policies of President Bush; a connection that the Democrats argue is highlighted by the fact that Douglas is the chairman of the Bush re-election committee in Vermont.

The ad features a picture of Douglas dressed up in a cowboy suit speaking through a megaphone:

(Sound from ad)
“Give me a B – because I’m the chair of the Bush Cheney re-election campaign! Give me a U – and you know what that means! Give me an S – sshhhh keep my Bush ties quiet, ya’hear!”

(Kinzel) Democratic Party Chairman Scudder Parker says the Web ads are a way to fire up the base of the Party and he admits it’s a way to try to get reporters to focus on the key issues of the campaign.

(Parker) “When you put out the Web ad and link the Web ad to the site of which those are posted, you hope that you will be able to get people by reading the ad to look at the substantive stuff that’s behind it as well.”

(Kinzel) Both campaigns say they plan on producing more Web ads in the future as a way to communicate their message to their supporters and to the media.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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