The worst ad of 2013

December 12, 2013

We've picked the best and worst campaigns of 2013.  We've picked the best ad of the year. Now it's time for the worst ad.


Garbage. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Before we get to the nominees and the winner, it's worth noting that in most of the big -- statewide races with real money being spent -- contests of 2013, there were very few genuinely terrible ads.  "If you’re a candidate for a major office, you can afford a decent media consultant," explained Elizabeth Wilner, vice president for Strategic Initiatives at Kantar Media/CMAG. "That’s becoming truer for outside groups, as well. To the extent that we still see 'bad' or poorly done ads, they tend to belong to groups that don’t have a lot of money, or that have funders who want to be their own media consultants."

We still managed to find a few bad ones out there.

Nominees for Worst Ad

* "Opt Out/The Exam" (Generation Opportunity)

* "Wake Up Minneapolis" (Jeffrey Alan Wagner)

* "Economy" (Garden State Forward)

* "Don't let them Detroit Virginia" (Fight for To morrow)

* "Biker Gangs" (Joe Lhota)

* "A toast to Tom Suozzi" (Adam Haber)

And the winner is....."Wake Up Minneapolis".

This ad, for longshot Minneapolis mayoral candidate Jeffrey Alan Wagner had it all.  It begins with Wagner walking out of a lake -- shirtless -- carrying a cup of coffee. Then it starts to get really weird.

"I am cool with making $100,000 a year," Wagner rants says to the camera. He tells voters he won't take money from developers or from the "political angle" (um, what?) and then makes this pronouncement: " I will not even go to the strip clubs anymore." Boom. That happened.

But, Wagner isn't done -- not even close. He tells Minneapolis voters to "wake up" -- only he doesn't use exactly those words. Then a woman appears -- she was also in the beginning of the ad for some inexplicable reason -- with a coffee pot and Wagner's cup of coffee (remember that?). He takes the cup from her, smiles and walks back into the lake. But, wait, there's more! The ad ends with Wagner pointing his finger directly at the camera telling you he approved the message.

Amazing(ly) bad.

In a field of more than two dozen candidates -- including someone named "Captain Jack Sparrow" -- Wagner got 164 votes (.21 percent) on the first choice ballot and 292 votes (.42 percent) on the second choice ballot. Surprisingly, those 456 votes weren't enough to make him the next mayor.

At least he won something. The Fix's worst ad of the year.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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Sean Sullivan · December 12, 2013