We’re accustomed to seeing candidates appear in campaign ads wearing staid business attire, or maybe sporting a down-home look in jeans and rolled-up sleeves. But a wetsuit? That could only come from Ken Gordon, whose last Internet ad received Westword’s nod for political ad of the year. That spot, which the alt-weekly deemed “hilarious,” featured Gordon skydiving Hickenlooper-style and riding horseback in an homage to Ben Nighthorse Campbell. In his latest Internet ad, the Secretary of State candidate takes his campaign to a new, well, let’s say depth. Filmed at Denver’s Downtown Aquarium, the ad depicts a scuba-geared Gordon shouting a garbled message (helpfully translated in subtitles), while surrounded by menacing-looking sharks. A different ad incorporating the underwater stunt will air on TV later this week.
For now, the Internet version can be viewed on his Web site. Gordon said his unusual ads help him reach out to voters.
“Humor is a way to connect with people even if they don’t agree with you,” he said. “In politics, there’s so much fighting and meanspirited conversation that it tends to make people wary of each other and not willing to work with each other. Humor is an antidote for that.”
The sharks are meant to represent special interests, whose contributions Gordon said he refuses to accept.
“Practically any candidate anywhere in the country these days takes money from PAC’s,” he said.
Gordon believes candidates are too easily swayed by PAC money. “They pay for influence and power, and that’s wrong,” he said.
The idea for the ad came from an earlier stunt when Gordon e-mailed supporters and told them his campaign manager had locked him in his office and wouldn’t let him out until he collected $15,000. The donations poured in, and Gordon hopes the shark bit will have the same effect. During the ad, Gordon says he will stay under water until he raises enough money to put the spot on TV. The candidate said he’d never been scuba diving before and was more worried about breathing than about the sharks.
“I actually was not afraid of the sharks at all,” he said. “I didn’t even think about them.”
This will be the first TV spot for the Gordon campaign. Will it grab enough voters’ attention to give his campaign a much-needed jumpstart?