Paying for television commercials can be among a candidate’s greatest expenses, yet it’s often the most effective way to reach voters.
The five leading candidates for mayor — Keith Amemiya, Rick Blangiardi, Colleen Hanabusa, Mufi Hannemann and Kym Pine — are all buying airtime this month and into the next one in order to persuade voters who haven’t already mailed in their ballot for the Aug. 8 primary.
I’ll look at the latest ads from Amemiya, Hannemann and Pine in a moment. (Hanabusa’s campaign tells me there are no new ads from her, although she has purchased TV airtime). And I wrote about Blangiardi’s latest ads on Monday.
But first, there is another mayoral candidate of note who is running an ad, even though he has raised very little money — just $25,000 as of June 30, a mere pittance when compared to the $1.2 million Amemiya has raised, for example.
The 30-second clip, titled “For Freedom, For Aloha, For Our Keiki,” comes from Bud Stonebraker.
“Bud Stonebraker will fight for our freedoms,” a narrator begins.
Then the candidate wearing lei directly addresses the viewer, saying, “We should be free to work and live in Honolulu. Free to get a permit. Free to drive on smooth roads. Scandal free.”
Watch the ad:
Stonebraker is one of 10 other candidates in addition to the “big five,” part of a second tier that includes activist Choon James and former lawmaker John Carroll.
Stonebraker is the only one of them to pay for a TV commercial this campaign season. He is a former Republican state representative, a current pastor at a small church in Waimanalo and a Hawaii Foodbank distributor.
The clip is a little unusual in that it features a black-and-white image of Stonebraker’s head. It brings to mind a similar image used by Neil Abercrombie in his many campaigns — beard, glasses — except that Stonebraker’s hair is cut short.
The ad plugs common election themes — “putting the needs of local people first,” “grow our own food,” “create new jobs” and the inarguable and ubiquitous “our keiki are our future.”
The ad closes with keiki and kupuna literally rising from a taro field to shaka their support for the mayoral wannabe.
If Stonebraker manages to attract a sizable number of votes, this ad will deserve some of the credit. It’s low-budget but simple and appealing.
But it’s not airing a lot, just on KGMB during the news programs, at a cost of around $9,000, according to the latest filings with the Federal Communications Commission.
Amemiya, the former businessman and high school sports champion, has two new spots out, and he is running them frequently. The first is called “Time for Change,” which posits that “the same old ideas just haven’t worked.”
Watch the ad:
A narrator says, “He’s been called the most progressive candidate with far-reaching plans to reduce homelessness and create affordable housing.” But there is no citation given.
Amemiya’s second ad, “Honolulu’s Chance for Change,” similarly presents the candidate as the only one in the field most able to “break the status quo.” The screen flashes images of the city’s Ethics Commission and the disgraced Louis and Katherine Kealoha.
Watch the ad:
“Keith is credited with saving high school sports in Hawaii by being bold and innovative,” the ad states. This time a Honolulu Star-Advertiser story from Aug. 9, 2009 — titled “Amemiya’s vision has raised bar for high school sports” — is credited.
The story does indeed use the words “bold” and “innovative” to describe Amemiya’s work as executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association. But it does not explicitly say that he saved high school sports, although he is credited for kicking off the “HHSAA SOS” (Save Our Sports) campaign “to help offset state budget cuts to public school athletic programs.”
It’s also not clear how administrating high school sports compares to running a city and county of 950,000 people.
No matter. Most TV viewers won’t bother to look up the old clip. And Amemiya is widely viewed as having had a positive impact on sports. And Hawaii people love sports.
The Amemiya campaign has spent more than $60,000 in the past few weeks to run ads on KGMB (“The Price Is Right,” “Face the Nation”), KHON (“60 Minutes,” “Inside Edition”) and KITV (“Jimmy Kimmel,” “Ellen”).
The latest ad from Hannemann, the former mayor and current lodging and tourism executive, follows a tried-and-true formula of featuring well-known figures singing the candidate’s praises.
Watch the ad:
The message of the ad, titled “We’re With Mufi,” is obvious: the likes of chef Roy Yamaguchi and Dr. Erlaine Bello are with Mufi, and so should you be.
“Honolulu will again be the best place to live, work and raise our families,” the candidate says in a voice-over as the screen shows him in a sharp suit and walking toward us. His campaign has spent about $30,000 over the past month on KGMB (“Sunrise,” “Keiki Hula Ho’ike’), KHON (local news, “Wheel of Fortune”) and KITV (“The View,” Dr. Oz”).
The ads from Hannemann and Amemiya continue to build on their central messages, respectively: that Hannemann was a good mayor and will be again, and that Amemiya is someone fresh and untainted.
The campaign of Kym Pine has purchased airtime from Monday until the election, on KGMB (“Face the Nation”), KHON (“Live With Kelly and Ryan”) and KITV (“Good Morning Hawaii”) at a cost of about $20,000.
There is also this 30-second clip titled “Thank You Kym Pine” that a campaign email on Monday says is new.
Watch the ad:
Pine, a Honolulu City Council member, is thanked by various backers for saving business and unemployment benefits, for supporting an agricultural-based economy, for getting people “safely back to work” and for “fighting corruption at city hall.”
“Kym will get the job done,” says UH law professor Ken Lawson.
Simple, low-budget, appealing.
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