October 28, 2010

America’s midterm elections are on Tuesday, but they”€™ve already voted for their favorite news network, and it sure as hell ain”€™t the Microsoft/National Broadcasting Company. Have you seen their latest advertising campaign? How could you not? It’s the biggest campaign in the network’s history. They”€™re going with the remarkably bland catchphrase “€œLean Forward,”€ which conjures up images of subway commuters going to work on a Monday morning (yawn), though in this case it’s more like a suicidal geriatric on the edge of a cliff.

Recent prime-time ratings show Fox with about 2.5 million viewers as MSNBC struggles for a third of that total. Fox couldn”€™t resist kicking their little brother in the nuts with a rival campaign entitled “€œMove Forward”€ and the tagline, “€œWe don”€™t lean up against a wall. We break it down.”€ Awesome.

“€œIt should be obvious why this ship is sinking. It’s full of fools.”€

To watch the ads side-by-side is to see what was once two Americas but is now a big fat America and some anorexic in the corner shaking her tiny fist. The “€œLean Forward”€ ad looks like a YouTube montage of home movies and sounds like an 80-year-old Mexican who just got out of bed. The message seems to be: “€œWe don”€™t hate minorities.”€ Fox nods a polite “€œThanks”€ and takes off with a blistering ad that shows reporters in the center of tear-gas clouds screaming their heads off while Hummers race through gigantic explosions in the background. Where MSNBC has kids waterskiing on a Sunday afternoon, Fox has the Coast Guard ripping through the water at 60 mph. This is how Fox pushed MSNBC out of the number-one spot. They said, “€œMove.”€

It reminds me of these dueling giant poster ads I saw in Berlin a few years ago. You”€™d get off the train in the city center, walk up the stairs, and be met with a 200-foot-high Carlsberg beer bottle and the slogan, “€œProbably the best lager in the world.”€ A few days later Heineken covered an adjacent building with an equally tall poster saying, “€œThe best lager in the world.”€


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