Just because 2013 wasn’t a major election year doesn’t mean campaigns, super PACs and special interest groups held back on churning out political ads.
In fact, the past year marked some of the most bizarre, moving, and downright offensive ads in recent memory. Here’s a trip down memory lane. If this year is any indication of what 2014 has in store – with the midterm elections inching closer and closer– there is a lot to look forward to.
1. “Creepy Uncle Sam” by Generation Opportunity: The Virginia-based, Koch brothers-backed organization released an ad in September in an effort to scare young Americans to opt out of Obamacare. Uncle Sam is seen performing a gynecological exam on a young woman with the goal of making Americans think the government is “playing doctor.” The group later released a similar Halloween-themed ad.
2. “Wake Up Minneapolis” by Jeffrey Wagner for Mayor:
Long-shot Minneapolis mayoral candidate Jeffrey Wagner may have released the strangest ad of the year. In the one-minute spot, Wagner is seen emerging shirtless from a lake drinking out of a mug. He then makes the case for why he should be mayor. “I will not take money from the developers. I will not take money from the political angle. I will not even go to the strip clubs anymore. Wake the f–k up!” he says. Wagner lost the race.
3. “What Rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes?” By McConnell Senate Committee 2014
An autotune ad approved by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked the poignant question: “What rhymes with Alison Lundergan Grimes,” his Democratic opponent in 2014. Some of the answers include: “not ready for prime time” and “left wing mime.” After the ad went viral, Lundergan Grimes accused McConnell of playing “silly games.”
4. “Screaming Donkeys” by Our Voice PAC
The super PAC of Nevada Tea Party Republican Sharron Angle, who lost a Senate bid in 2010, came out with a YouTube video comparing Democrats’ rhetoric to the noise of screaming donkeys. In the spot, Democrats, including President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton are seen talking about important issues of the day. Their soundbytes are interspersed with Howard Dean’s infamous 2004 scream coming out of the mouth of a donkey. The ad rips “Democrat-speak,” which it says “all just sounds the same.”
5. “Dante” by New Yorkers for De Blasio
Dante, the son of New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, became a household name in the city after the campaign featured the impressively afroed 15-year-old. The teen is seen walking with de Blasio and his African-American wife, Chirlane McCray. Dante explains that de Blasio is the “only Democrat with the guts to really break from the Bloomberg years.” He continues, only acknowledging at the end that the two are related. “He’s the only one who will end a stop-and-frisk era that unfairly targets people of color,” Danta says. “Bill de Blasio will be a mayor for every New Yorker, no matter where they live or what they look like, and I’d say that even if he weren’t my dad.” Many said the ad played a crucial role in helping de Blasio win the NYC primary.
6. “Father’s Son” by Carl Sciortino Committee
This one wins for the most unlikely political ad of the year. Carl M. Sciortino, who was running as a as a progressive to replace Sen. Ed Markey’s vacated congressional seat, released a spot featuring his Tea Party father. Sciortino, who is openly gay, recalls coming out of the closet to his dad. The two go back and forth about how they agree on very little. The ad concludes with the duo acknowledging the love they have for each other.
7. “Daughters” by Cheney for Wyoming
I’m from Wyoming—I swear! That’s the message Republican Senate candidate Liz Cheney works to get across in an ad featuring her three daughters who hail the Cheneys’ historical roots in the state . The former vice president’s daughter has been coming under attack for not having strong ties to Wyoming. The ad was released as Cheney faced a public battle with her sister over gay marriage.