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Owe, No! Meet Hugh Jidette

November 9th, 2010 . by economistmom

Rally - HD from Peterson Foundation on Vimeo.

The Peter G. Peterson Foundation launched a new “OweNO” ad campaign today, with these commercials featuring fictional Presidential candidate, “Hugh Jidette” (sounds like “Huge Debt”). There are two more ads in addition to the one above, which you can find on the OweNO site or here on vimeo.com. (I think my personal favorite is the one with the baby.) The “initial” investment of the Foundation to this effort is $6 million. I hope it works, or rather that it works well enough to make the project a “high bang per buck” one.

Let me know what message these ads send to you. If you are someone who’s been frustrated about the lack of outrage coming from American voters on the issue of fiscal responsibility, and even more frustrated by the politicians’ lack of candor and courage on the issue, let me know if you think these ads are helpful. What would be the logical next Hugh Jidette (or more general “OweNO”) ads in this public education series?

14 Responses to “Owe, No! Meet Hugh Jidette”

  1. comment number 1 by: Greg Ransom

    Why isn’t he black, about 50, with a fake “urban” accent?

    Ads that are afraid to be honest actually don’t work — they come across as insincere, or hiding something.

    As this one does.

  2. comment number 2 by: Greg Ransom

    This add is like the (now) old joke were every terrorist in current Hollywood movies are white Americans, and almost never Arab Muslims, or the like the home security ads were the home invasion break-ins are almost always perpetrated by middle class, nearly middle aged white guys.

    So here we have an ad with a 1950’s or 1970s stereotype of an old, white “politician” — looking nothing like Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama or G. W. Bush 10 years ago, the 3 people most easily identifiable as responsible for almost tripling the national debt.

  3. comment number 3 by: economistmom

    Greg: well, I think the intention was probably to make him as nondescript and UNidentifiable as possible (hence the bland, old–yet also seemingly-superficial and “polished”–white guy), because it’s not just one real politician’s fault, but “everyman’s” fault. I think the point of the ads is that fiscal responsibility is sort of ALL of our fault and yet also that ALL of us can do something (at least our small part) to contribute to the solution.

  4. comment number 4 by: AMTbuff

    Diane, the irony must have escaped you. The tag line was “With a plan, we can turn things around”. What plan? The Ryan plan? The underpants gnome plan? The “Assume a can opener” plan?

    Face it, without a plan, these commercials are going nowhere. Hiding the plan only promotes suspicion of a hidden agenda.

    If there is going to be any resolution of the fiscal gap before a crisis, it can only happen after the public wakes up and firmly commands the government either to slash spending or to double most taxes. Balanced approaches cannot win majority approval; it will have to be 80% one way or the other.

  5. comment number 5 by: Phil

    Honestly, I am disappointed in the PGPF with respect to these ads. It’s a serious issue that requires serious discussion. I have a ton of respect for Pete Peterson and I am a big fan of Dave Walker, but these ads are silly. Let’s leave the satire to John Stewart and The Onion who do it way better (did you read the Onion piece about beheading the White House Jester for making debt jokes? - fantastic). I would much rather see PGPF spend its energy and resources informing and advancing the policy debate than raising awareness with ads and silly facebook pages.

  6. comment number 6 by: Jim Glass

    I think these are fine and good. More, please!

    Why isn’t he black, about 50, with a fake “urban” accent?

    I think the point of the ads is that fiscal responsibility is sort of ALL of our fault…

    And the big majority of all of us are white and older, as far as the debt-busting entitlements are concerned.

    Diane, the irony must have escaped you. The tag line was “With a plan, we can turn things around”. What plan?

    There’s never going to be any credible plan until after enough people admit there is serious a problem. Focus on getting the problem across first, like this, good!

    Honestly, I am disappointed in the PGPF with respect to these ads. It’s a serious issue that requires serious discussion … I would much rather see PGPF spend its energy and resources informing and advancing the policy debate than raising awareness with ads

    There is *never* going to be any serious discussion until people start admitting there is a serious problem.

    Did you see Orszag saying how surprised he was that Democrats had *no desire whatsoever* to do anything to fix Social Security — even when they had the White House and 60% majorities in both House and Senate and were absolutely certain to get the best fix they would ever be able to get by their standards?

    They have zero interest in pursuing their own self interest! Why not? Because … Problem? What Problem? Near zero awareness of the problem among Democratic constituencies.

    How are we to increase public awareness of the problem? Hmmm … 20 years of serious panel discussions among policy wonks, and debate among policy wonks, and policy wonk academic analysis, position papers and fixes for SS scored as actuarially sound by the actuaries, all seems to have accomplished about zero.

    How do the political parties and all the political interest groups raise general public awareness of an isssue when they want to? With marketing and advertising, a lot of money spent on marketing and advertising.

    More, please!

  7. comment number 7 by: Underwriterguy

    Can’t hurt, might help…to raise awareness of debt as a problem. But how many who see the “commercial” have the background knowledge to understand what Hugh is talking about. Will this stimulate some research? Generate some concern? Hope so.

  8. comment number 8 by: AMTbuff

    The creators of the Simpsons have already done a great job illustrating the folly of middle class entitlements:
    Grandpa Simpson takes a stand.

  9. comment number 9 by: Greg Ransom

    “I think the intention was probably to make him as nondescript and UNidentifiable as possible .. because it’s not just one real politician’s fault, but “everyman’s” fault.”

    And that’s exactly the problem — we are no longer 1960s America, although most people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s seem to look at the world as if we are.

    The people in elective office voting for this disaster are youngish middle age women, youngish middle age men, minorities, old women — and not at all just old, polished white guys.

    Instead of spreading responsibility all around, it lays the responsibility on a convenient, cliched “other” — the polished, old white guy politician.

    In other words, FAIL.

  10. comment number 10 by: Vivian Darkbloom

    Greg Ransom,

    Take a look at the faces of those who hold office in Congress today, particularly those in Congressional leadership positions (committee chairs are handed out according to seniority). Most of them fit the profile of the white- haired late middle aged guy in the ad. They are not “youngish middle age women; youngish middle age men, minorities and old women” as you allege. (It’s really kind of ridiculous how you specificlly mention “youngish middle age women” and “old women” without mentioning “middle age women”, anyway). Now, watch the ad again. I think you will notice that the audience is rather representative of voters in the United States in the year 2010. And, I think you will also notice that the real point of the ad is that those faces in the crowd are responsible for the budget mess we’re in.

    I deplore the dumbing down of political discourse in the United States. However, experienced politicians know that to sell something to mainstream America, you’ve got to keep it simple. I suspect that most people watching this ad wouldn’t even know the size of the deficit, much less what a trillion is. I hope this is the start of a series of such ads that gradually move toward identifying, in simple terms, what a budget reduction plan might look like.

  11. comment number 11 by: Vivek Golikeri

    @Greg Ransom: I don’t deny that women, minorities or younger people have also done the borrow and spend while running on a lower taxes platform trick. But this ad was never intended to disparage old white conservatives; I think you’re doing the same touchiness as minorities or Jews who perceive racism or anti-semitism in anything.

    George W. Bush also played that game. Never knew he was a liberal, a woman, or not white!

  12. comment number 12 by: Gayle

    If our politicians were transparent, telling the truth, this is what they would say. How about adding that we’ll bankrupt our states by giving money to foreigners that are here illegally. They will have enough money to send money back home. In fact the money sent home will be a large percentage of the foreign country’s economy. We will also send our jobs there.

  13. comment number 13 by: Brian

    “Why isn’t he black, about 50, with a fake “urban” accent?”

  14. comment number 14 by: Brian

    Maybe because most of our federal deficit was created during presidencies of white guys.