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Who approved these messages?

Parsing the political ads, good and bad. OK, mostly bad.
By PHILIP EIL  |  August 27, 2014

"Don't Be a Blockhead"

Campaign 2014 — and, therefore, the campaign 2014 TV ad season — is far from over. We still have more than two months until the general election on November 4.

But the freewheeling pre-primary days, when money flies out of campaign coffers and the evening news offers back-to-back-to-back political spots during commercial breaks, are about to end. So it’s a good time to recognize ads from the last few months that stood apart for reasons good and bad. OK, mostly bad.

It’s not the Oscars. It’s not the Emmys. We’re calling it The Chestnuts, in honor of Chestnut Street in Providence, where the Phoenix is headquartered.

Read on to meet your winners.

Worst Idea

Most attack ads go after candidates, not their supporters. So perhaps Cranston Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung thought he was breaking new ground when he released an ad depicting fans of his opponent Ken Block saying and doing silly things (like attempting to stick a fork in a toaster), with their heads digitally altered to look like “blocks.” “Don’t be a Blockhead. Say no to Ken Block,” the ad implores at the end, but it was Fung who ended up looking blockheaded for insulting voters as a campaign tactic.

Best Foreign Film

The Fung campaign would never officially confirm or deny whether their folksy, biographical ad declaring Rhode Island “Open for Business” was filmed outside of Rhode Island. But the owner of Tommy’s Diner in Columbus, Ohio said that the ad was filmed there, the decor in the ad seems to match Tommy’s (hat tip to GoLocalProv for first noticing this), and Fung’s campaign finance reports indicate a $127,000 expenditure to an Ohio-based communications firm. Compounding the gaffe was the campaign’s unwillingness to give a yes or no answer about the ad’s provenance. “We stand by the message of this ad,” campaign spokesman Rob Coupe told Rhode Island Public Radio. Unfortunately, when you film an ad in Ohio for a Rhode Island gov’s race, it sends a message louder than all others.

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