Saturday, October 2, 2010

"Spanish-Language Ads Attack Meg Whitman"

October 1, 2010, 2:49 PM

Spanish-Language Ads Attack Meg Whitman

The Ad Campaign

The Service Employees International Union wants California’s Latino voters to know that Meg Whitman is two-faced — “de dos caras” in Spanish.

The California Gubernatorial Race

75 ThumbnailBoth candidates are trying to make history.

On Thursday, the union began a $5 million campaign called “Cambiando California,” backing Attorney General Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee for  governor, over Ms. Whitman, the former eBay chief and Republican nominee. The move is the largest independent expenditure ever aimed specifically at Latino voters, who represent roughly 20 percent of California’s electorate, and includes a Spanish-language ad attacking Ms. Whitman that will start running Saturday in Los Angeles and Fresno.

The 30-second spot, called “Nueve Años,” shows images of Ms. Whitman and says, “Meg Whitman says she’s a different kind of Republican, but Pete Wilsonis in charge of her campaign.”

Mr. Wilson, a former governor of California who has described Ms. Whitman as “tough as nails” when it comes to illegal immigration, is deeply unpopular in the Latino community because of his support for a 1994 proposition aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from using the state’s social services.

“Whitman attacks undocumented workers to win votes, but an undocumented woman worked in her home for nine years,” the ad continues, referring to Nicandra Diaz-Santillan, Ms. Whitman’s former housekeeper and nanny who alleged this week that Ms. Whitman knew she was in the country illegally and treated her “like a piece of garbage.”

The spot concludes: “Whitman says one thing in Spanish — and something different in English. The real Meg Whitman has no shame. She’s a two-faced woman.”

A spokeswoman for the group said the television buy was for “several million dollars,” but that the campaign would also include other radio spots, Internet advertising and direct mail.

Ms. Whitman’s campaign dismissed the spot as “the liberal sleaze machines at work” and stressed her excitement at participating in a debate in Fresno on Saturday that will be shown on Univision.

“California’s Latino voters are engaged in this election and supporting Meg in large numbers,” said Hector Barajas, a Whitman spokesman.  


The above article appeared on the blog section of the nytimes online on Friday, and in light of what Professor Rodriguez mentioned on Thursday about ads that Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown have been sponsoring lately to appeal to Latin@ audiences, I thought this blog article was interesting. I think it just really goes to show that the Latin@ community makes up a substantial part of the California electorate, and special interest groups have to take that fact into account if they want to get their favored candidate into office. 

From the way I understood the article, it seems like the Service Employees International Union isn't so much trying to influence all Latin@ voters, but rather a certain demographic. Namely, the article mentions that ads will be targeted to audiences in Los Angeles and Fresno, and will be aired on Univision. Given what we have discussed in class about the diversity of the Latin@ community and the difficulty of appealing in any generic way to Latin@s because of this, I would be interested to see just what kinds of claims these ads make. 

I was especially struck, though, by the statement from "Nueve Años" that describes Meg Whitman as "two-faced" because she makes certain claims to her English-language audience and different ones when addressing her Spanish-language audience. As an electorally-motivated politician, Meg Whitman seems to think it is in her best interest to frame herself and to construct her platform differently when campaigning in front of English speaking vs Spanish speaking audiences. While this inconsistency is certainly problematic, it is absolutely reminiscent of what we saw in the Target commercials we watched at the beginning of the semester... the same approach doesn't seem to sell the same product to everyone. 

1 comment:

  1. I agree on the fact that politicians address different issues to each potential electorate. Recently I have noticed commercials from both camps, Whitman and Brown, on a couple of Spanish radio stations based here in the Bay Area. Both of these stations play Regional Mexican music (Banda, Corridos, Nortena, Duranguense, etc.) The stations obviously target Spanish speakers, mainly Mexicans. Brown's commercial champions his work with Cesar Chavez, and attacks Whitman( or makes her unattractive) by saying she supports the AZ law and she has Pete Wilson working for her campaign. Many political scientist have cited Prop 187, led by Pete Wilson, as the cause for alienation of Hispanics from the Republican Party . Most Latinos recognize his name and see it as unfavorable since his crusade for Prop 187 ( Denying rights to illegal immigrants). On the other hand Whitman's ad is a conversation between a family("La Familia"). The female states that Univision has cited Whitman as opposing the AZ law. Also she says Whitman will create jobs and " we don't have to vote for Brown because he is a Democrat."So both camps use appeals that fall into assumptions: We all devotedly listen to Univision, all Latinos vote Democratic, and all Latinos oppose Wilson and the AZ law. On the other hand the ads I see in English based channels differ very much from these points, and although neither candidate has been specific on a plan of action in either language, I see less of these types of assumptions in English ads.