How does something like this godawful Herman Cain "Smoking man" ad make it past a focus group? Oh, that's right. Cain is too cheap to pay for focus groups. Or staff. Or mildly competent media production.

That video is like the opening credits to a snuff film. Or something equally unsettling.

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31 Responses to “FAILURE TO LAUNCH”

  1. Tim Says:

    I think the way Cain continues to widen his smile is equally as creepy. It's like he's Wile E. Coyote about to devour the Road Runner. Seriously.

  2. ts121790 Says:

  3. mothra Says:

    Oh come on. It's BRILLIANT.

    Oh, wait. You mean it fails as a campaign ad. I saw it as an avant-garde short. On that level it's BRILLIANT.

  4. Hazy Davy Says:

    1) Dude shaking his head "no" as he's saying things is a hint.
    2) Wait, that cigarette looks….hand-rolled. Is this a subtle "legalize it" libertarian stance?
    3) The smile at the end says "vote for me, and I'll molest your children." Come on, Herm, you're creepin' me out.
    4) What? I would like to put it through some "GWAR" synthesizer. Then it would work.
    5) (bangs head) Am I the only one who knows Romney's the GOP candidate. Seriously, let's all stop pretending and let Herm get on with his successful ghost-written book tour and inspirational speaking to push GOP talking points.

  5. stonguse Says:

    You think that ad is bad, check this one out:

  6. Tim Says:


    …My mind is blown. Call the ER.

  7. Fifth Dentist Says:

    What's really funny is, if this holds and Mittens Goodhair and the Godfather are the frontrunners, in a few weeks thousands of Republicans are going to find themselves in a booth and suddenly realize they have to either vote for a Mormon or a black guy.
    I think the simultaneous explosion of their heads will be heard in Anarctica.

  8. wetcasements Says:

    "like the opening credits to a snuff film"

    You, sir, have made me LOL.

  9. Middle Seaman Says:

    Cigarettes are good for you, we live in the 50s, flat earth, flat taxes, global cooling, a great ad

  10. Wondering Says:

    Is Herman Cain a true genius? This WTF ad has received so much free publicity it almost seems like somebody said let's make a campaign ad that is mostly a common candidate introduction ad, and then add something at the end that's so bizarre that it will get a ton of airplay, particularly on shows like Leno and Letterman. Going by the old mantra that there's no such thing as bad publicity, maybe they're right. It certainly has received its share of attention. If that's not the reasoning, then these people scare me. Seriously, who could think that putting that last part in would be a good idea otherwise?

  11. ChrisH Says:

    I live in New York state, and about 10-15 years ago, when laws restricting smoking in bars and restaurants, among other places, were being considered, I remember seeing bumper stickers that read, "I smoke and I vote!" Maybe Cain is pandering to those people with this ad.

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    I somtimes get the feeling that today's Republican Party is a gathering of performance artists, and somehow or other I missed the audition notice.

    I mean, how do you explain these clowns, and ads like the yellow flowers and smoking man ones?

    Cain must have snapped up that demon-sheep director as an advisor.

  13. acer Says:

    Clearly, the only way to stop smoking within 15 feet of a public entryway is a fence. Electrified.

  14. Fiddlin' Bill Says:

    I think it's possible Cain believes the voting public is so entirely cynical about government that they would now vote for an incompetent joke, as a joke. That's the message of this ad, imho. And the evidence for his view is actually pretty strong. "Death Panels." "Sharia Law." There are now laws in various states banning "Sharia Law." This is our voting public.

  15. John Says:

    @Wondering: "There's no such thing as bad publicity" is a PR phrase invented by people who were bad at their marketing jobs to cover their butts when their ads flopped. To this day I have never eaten at a Quizno's, and never will, because of those horrifying ads in the late 90s or early 2Ks that features those miserable screeching… rat/puke things with googly eyes.

    As for Cain's ad? What is there to say? The rest of the ad was so boiler-plate, so mind-numbingly average and predictable ("We need an experienced guy in office! A real leader! Take back our country!") that they needed SOMETHING, *anything*, to spice it up. Unfortunately for them, their idea guy was super low that day.

    Just once, just fucking *once*, I'd like to be in the room with one of these bozos when they utter that completely meaningless "Take back our country!" line so I can ask, "Take it back from *who*? Your fellow Americans?"

  16. K. Says:

    Weird! So weird!

    As a twenty-three-year-old, this ad is a MAJOR turn-off/creep-out, and I bet plenty of people older and younger than I would say the same thing. Why did they include the shot of him smoking? It was pretty regular up until that point.

    Plus, the sudden drag on the hand-rolled makes him look nervous and even untrustworthy, not to mention unprofessional to a ridiculous degree.

  17. ladiesbane Says:

    The blue-and-red torch…the emphasis on UNITING America…the "we're all fed up" chord…the hand-rolled…it's clear: Cain is trying to hook a few disaffected Democrats. In the last election, they voted for a Dem who turned out to be a Republican, so it must be time to vote for a Republican who will ignore, I mean, "unify" Democrats. He's really a Centrist, honest!

    Cain exists to throw the other candidates into a better light. It's like having ugly bridesmaids at your wedding so you'll look good. The fact that Cain doesn't understand this just makes him look even less intelligent. It looks as if they made this ad in fifteen minutes, including writing, and spent their entire budget on lunch. It's too earnest and stupid to be a political ploy — which, as political ploys go, is very lame, even if people really are tired of candidates who seem to bring all their wits to bear on strategies to win the popularity contest, then turn into zombies once they enter the Oval Office.

    I know it can't be required, but I'd still like to see all candidates, from all parties, volunteer to take the Foreign Service exam and have their answers made public.

    Huntsman would score the highest, then Gingrich, then Romney, then Paul. Perry would fall even lower than Santorum and Bachmann. Cain would be lower still, down there with Jimmy McMillan and Tom Miller. Pawlenty would have done better than Perry, but he's long gone. And Fred Karger wouldn't have been allowed to take the test at all.

  18. Major Kong Says:

    Wasn't it The X Files that had the creepy "smoking man" character?

  19. Jon Says:

    I do believe Cain's smile at the end of this video is to indicate that he'd like to feast on my corpse with a nice Chianti and some fava beans.

  20. EIPolitics Says:

    Herman Cain is a profound moron but that ad aint shit compared to this

  21. Desargues Says:

    While I defer to Ed's expertise, so here's my defeasible claim: Hermie's running for the Republican primary right now, not for the national election. He knows — probably better than us — what kind of people get out to vote in those circuses. I suspect he gets it and we don't. Maybe it's no coincidence that he's been leading in the polls for about four weeks now.

  22. Zeb Says:

    These are all pretty terrible ads (the jingoism in the Perry ad, and the fact that it resembled ads for post-apocalyptic blockbusters, was priceless).

    However, I see your Smoking Man and I raise you a Demon Sheep. Nothing even comes close to Carly Fiorina's ads.

  23. Scepticus Says:

    I've never seen a snuff film. I don't know anything about snuff films or their intended audience who pay to see such. But I do know snuff films wouldn't get made if some people didn't pay to see them. So, I will assume those people are the Republican base.

    They cheer executions, after all.

  24. jon Says:

    A snuff film would have better pacing.

  25. Brandon Says:

    @ ladiesbane: The sad thing is, I bet Santorum would do halfway decently on a foreign affairs exam. As utterly repugnant as his social views and overall personality are, he has some background in foreign relations from his days in the Senate.

  26. AK Says:

    This is kind of like the Rebecca Black thing, nah? Sure it sucks, but you're talking about it – that's handing him a win.

    Also, anything that keeps Cain's name in the news without being attached to a discussion of his actual positions is a victory for his campaign.

  27. ellie Says:

    @c u n d –

    "I sometimes get the feeling that today's Republican Party is a gathering of performance artists, and somehow or other I missed the audition notice."

    You and me both, and thanks for articulating it.

    I watch this stuff, and I swear I automatically start to go into the "this is too weird to be real, so it must be not real, so what is it really saying?" reflex mode. Except its not…which is even weirder. But you put your finger on the unsettling reaction I have to this stuff.

  28. Infidel753 Says:

    Stonguse — that can't be a real add — I mean — can it?

  29. Boethius Says:

    Looks like a hit for the ad department at R.J. Reynolds.

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