How did Tim Gill’s Fight Back NY manage to put itself on the map? With some clever attack ads, viral games and — oh, right, celebrities. Like Cynthia Nixon and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. And now that the Human Rights Campaign has copied FBNY’s tactics, much to Queerty‘s delight? They’re mirroring the A-list strategy.
HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage, led by Empire State Pride Agenda’s almost-chief Brian Ellner, has lured actress Julianne Moore to star in its spot; Kyra Sedgwick, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Rev. Al Sharpton are on deck. The Times notes the celebrity-fueled campaign is “a major departure from their strategy of lobbying political insiders.” This is true!
But just like HRC’s lobbying strategy, these ads will bomb. If Moore’s ditty is any indication, the creative relies on appealing to New Yorkers’ sense of belonging to their city. Their state. (That’s why Alicia Keys’ “Empire State Of Mind” is playing in the background, you see.) That’s a nice sentiment, but as the Ground Zero Mosque Scandal, or whatever, has shown, just because you’re a New Yorker doesn’t mean you believe the same things as your neighbors.
Ellner says “polls show there’s broad-based support for marriage equality in this state, and this campaign is the first in a series of efforts that will put faces to that support.” But do regular New Yorkers identify with “faces” like Moore’s? She’s a pretty lady, and a quality actress, but I don’t ask Ms. Moore for restaurant recommendations on the Upper West Side or if she knows a good shoe cobbler.
We’ve seen these warm fuzzy ads before, particularly when it really counted — to challenge an immediate ballot measure, for instance. And they failed. They failed to convince anyone to get on board. They failed to change the minds of people who didn’t agree with us. They failed to mobilize in enough quantities.
And while it’s lovely to see famous faces get behind our rights — something I do applaud, in all seriousness — the effectiveness of these ads has already been shown. They don’t work. Unless you’re going to get a George Clooney-style Hurricane Katrina-level assault on your emotions, this is just another terrible way to spend HRC’s resources. The spots are easy to ignore. Just like their message.