I first stumbled across the displayed ad in Washington D.C. on the side of a bus stop. Struck by the image of George Bush, I stopped to survey it. Even as a Bush critic I was somewhat taken aback. Taking one of the most memorable images which represents a sliver of the ultimate failure of the previous administration seems brilliant on the surface. The ad and its organization, changeAidsobama.org, are certainly achieving the type of alluring controversy it intended. However, is the ad successful?
Despite its stop-you-in-your-tracks appeal, does the ad effectively communicate the negligence of government (more largely, the country) towards the AIDS crisis in D.C.? In my opinion, no.
The ad is highly successful in catching the viewer's eye and even more so in creating feelings of enmity in order to motivate people into action. Yet, its brutish approach distracts from the message at hand: AIDS. Sure, the letters are plastered across the bottom of the ad, but the image is so stark that I hardly noticed it. In fact, the over-the-top approach even detracts from the message rather than strengthens it. In this sense, this is not a successful ad.
Although the message is strong, its meaning is muddled in what comes across as more of a partisan jab (not unintentionally) than an appeal to a cause. For a social issue as important as the AIDS crisis, the ad actually undermines the message and goal. Though the title of the organization's website endorses Obama in certain fashion, the page itself is rife with criticisms of his negligence.
Ironically, the ad only furthers the negligence it seems to wholly abhor.