We’re more than a little stunned by the latest negative campaign ad, sponsored by U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra against incumbent Debbie Stabenow.
The thirty-second ad opens with the sound of a gong and a young Asian woman riding a bike near rice paddies. The woman stops her bike in the Asian landscape (actually California) and says in vaguely broken English, “You borrow more and more from us. Your economy gets very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you.”
If the intent was to generate national headlines and controversy then full marks to the genius that dreamt this up. In thirty seconds the ad successfully offended Asian Americans, and alarmed Hoekstra’s own Republican leadership which immediately sought to distance itself from the ad.
The PR Verdict: “D” a resounding flop. The ensuing publicity has focused solely on Hoekstra’s questionable judgment and nothing else. How does this help his campaign?
Hoekstra’s campaign defends the ad as “satirical”. Does this mean harmless? If so, why not substitute the Asian woman with a range of other stereotypes and wait for belly laughs from the audience? Is Hoekstra running for the senate or trying to get as job as an intern at Saturday Night Live?