California Attorney General Ad Watch


By Lucienne Marrow

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Ad Description

Ad Title: Poochigian Would Not Ban 50 Caliber BMG Rifles1

Sponsor: Jerry Brown for Attorney General2

Ad run: Began September 11. 20063[The ad was first viewed the weekend of October 14th-15th sometime in the afternoon on cable TV.]

Ad Overview: This ad focuses on the 50-caliber BMG rifle, its lethal capacity, and Chuck Poochigian's stance against legislation banning the weapon. The ad labels Jerry Brown as the better choice for California Attorney General and gives a list of some of Brown's endorsements. 

The ad opens with a man in a police uniform holding a 50-caliber round. This man is identified by a caption as David A. Kozicki, a police captain. Kozicki is standing in front of two police cars with their lights on in what appears to be the back parking lot of a small building. Kozicki says, "One round from the 50-caliber assault rifle is capable of passing through two police cars and coming out the other side and still kill you." Emphasis is placed on the words "still kill you" as Kozicki brings the round close to the camera. Kozicki then goes on to talk about how California police wanted to ban the assault rifle, but Charles Poochigian voted to keep the "killing machines legal." During this segment of the ad, Kozicki's narration is a voiceover and the audience views a computer simulation of a 50-caliber round going through two cop cars. In the top corner of the screen, as the round enters the first police car, an unattractive photo of Charles (Chuck) Poochigian appears. The same photo, only larger, also appears at the end of the computer simulation. The photo is set against a black screen with the caption "Charles Poochigian, Career Legislator". The ad then cuts back to a shot of David A. Kozicki. Kozicki claims Poochigian is too extreme for California. The ad cuts to a text shot that says "there's a better choice for Attorney General" and is voiced over by David A. Kozicki. The ad cuts back once again to Kozicki in front of the cop cars. Kozicki claims Jerry Brown is the better choice for Attorney General. To the left of Kozicki there is text that reads, "Jerry Brown for Attorney General endorsed by..." Underneath this caption scrolls a list of six law enforcement associations. These associations are: California Police Chiefs Association, San Francisco Police Officers Association, Oakland Police Officers Association, Deputy Sheriff's Association of Alameda County, San Jose Police Officers Association, and the Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff's Association. As these endorsements scroll down, Kozicki says that Jerry Brown will "work to protect our police officers" from 50-caliber assault rifles. He claims this is why "rank and file cops back Jerry Brown for Attorney General." At the end of the ad, a Jerry Brown endorsement can be seen at the bottom of the screen along with an attractive picture of him.

Throughout the ad there is faint, underlying, synthesized music playing in the background. It begins somewhat upbeat and then takes on a darker tone during the computer simulation of the 50-caliber round penetrating the two police cars. The music then recovers its upbeat tone when the ad labels Jerry Brown as the better choice for California Attorney General.

Ad Transcript: Officer Kozicki speaks narrates the entire ad and says the following: “One round from the 50-caliber assault rifle is capable of passing through two police cars and come out the other side and still kill you. California police wanted to ban it, but career legislator Charles Poochigian voted to keep these 50-caliber killing machines legal. Poochigian is too extreme for California. There’s a better choice for Attorney General, Jerry Brown. He’ll work to protect our police officers from these dangerous weapons. That’s why rank and file cops back Jerry Brown for Attorney General.”

Ad Techniques

  •  Transfer
    • Definition: The transfer of prestige and authority by something or someone respected and revered to an object, idea, or person as a result of an endorsement.4
    • David A. Kozicki, a police captain, is the narrator and star of Brown's campaign ad. Kozicki appears in the ad in his police uniform. A police officer is a person of prestige and authority. Kozicki says in the ad that Poochigian is too extreme for California and that Jerry Brown is the better choice for Attorney General. By having Kozicki name Jerry Brown over Poochigian as the better choice for Attorney General, the ad is attempting to transfer the respect and prestige associated with a police officer to Jerry Brown. The ad is attempting to get voters to view Jerry Brown the same way they view police officers - with respect and admiration. The six law enforcement associations listed at the end that endorsed Jerry Brown for Attorney General also emphasize this transfer.
  • Appeal to Authority /Testimonial
    • Definition: Using a respected authority figure to bring credibility to an argument or claim.5
    • David A. Kozicki's appearance in the ad is not only intended to transfer respect and admiration to Jerry Brown. His testimonial is also intended to ad credibility to the ad’s claims. The ad’s creators want the audience to believe that: if Kozicki says that a 50-caliber round shot from a 50-caliber BMG rifle can go through two cop cars and still kill you, then it can. If Kozicki says that Poochigian voted against banning the weapons than Poochigian did. If Kozicki says Poochigian is too extreme for California, then he is. If Kozicki says that Brown is a better choice for Attorney General than he is. AND if Kozicki says that Brown will work to protect police officers from that "deadly weapon" then he will. Anything Kozicki says is intended to be taken at face value, as truth, because he is a police captain.
  •  Meaning from Association
    • Definition: Two objects are placed side by side in a manner that creates a connection, psychologically, between the two.
    • In Brown's ad, Poochigian's photo is shown in the top corner of the screen as the 50-caliber round enters the first police car in the computer simulation. His photo, along with his name and job description, "Career Legislator," appears directly after the bullet exits the second cop car. By having Poochigian's image sandwich the computer simulation of the police cars being penetrated by the 50-caliber round, an attempt is being made to psychologically connect Poochigian with this violent act. An attempt to make this connection is also made when "killing machines" is said by Kozicki as Poochigian's photo is front and center on the screen.
  •  Sensory Techniques
    • Music creates suspense in the ad. The music also creates contrast between Brown and Poochigian. When Poochigian is mentioned the music is much darker than the upbeat music played when Brown is being endorsed as the better choice for California.
    • The police uniform that Police Captain Kozicki wears and the police cars with their lights on in the background add credibility to the political ad.
    • A 50-caliber round is shown in the political ad. This could convince viewers of the BMG rifles lethal capabilities due to the large size of the round it projects.
  • Rhetorical Devices
    • Alliteration6 :: Kozicki says "50-caliber killing machines" which emphasizes the weapons lethal ability.
    • Use of "You" :: Kozicki begins talking about the 50-caliber BMG rifle's capability of killing through two cop cars. Instead of saying that it can pass through two police cars and still kill police officers, Kozicki says it can "still kill you." This makes the argument somewhat illogical but also gives it a more fearful personal appeal.
    • Word Choice :: Labeling Poochigian as a “career legislator” has a negative connotation. Statistically, legislative bodies in the United States have had consistently low approval ratings.

Ad Watch

Type of Ad: Negative / Contrast Ad7

Context:  According to the California Official Voter Information Guide, the Attorney General is the state’s chief law enforcement officer. The Attorney General heads the Department of Justice, which provides support to local law enforcement.8  TThe Attorney General is responsible for implementing and operating programs that will protect Californians from being victimized or put in harms way.9

The ad about the 50-caliber BMG rifle falls in line with the type of issues that could face California's Attorney General. The issue is pertinent and appropriate for a political campaign ad for Attorney General. Furthermore, the ad falls in line with other issue-based ads put out by Jerry Brown's campaign. The slogan, "Poochigian is too extreme for California" strings the issue-based ads together. The ad also displayed pertinent endorsements - those by the law enforcement associations. 

This is a negative ad aimed at lowering public opinion of Poochigian. This ad for Brown against Poochigian falls in line with the type of ads the Poochigian campaign is running against Brown.

Ad Rating  

[based on a 1-10 scale, 1 being the least and 10 being the most]

Truthfulness: This ad is accurate. An ad watch done by the Sacramento Bee confirmed that, on two occasions, Charles Poochigian voted against laws that would have banned the 50 Caliber BMG rifle displayed in this ad.10  The ad also accurately displayed a list of endorsements by law enforcement associations. All six associations listed in the ad were verified as having endorsed Jerry Brown. On our Sites of Interest page, links are given to each of the endorsing associations listed in the ad.

The ad labels David A. Kozicki as a Police Captain. He is in fact a Police Captain, not an actor. Kozicki is a police captain for the Oakland Police Department. The reason this information was not provided was because of police regulations. Because of those same regulations, Kozicki's shoulder patch is taped over and his badge is not present in the ad.11

The few faults the ad has to deal, not with the truthfulness in the claims but with the logic used to draw conclusions from those claims. First, Kozicki says that the 50-caliber bullet projected from the BMG rifle can penetrate two cop cars and still kill you. It would have been a more logical claim if he said that it could pass through two (regular) cars and still kill you or it could pass through two police cars and still kill the police officer. Second, the wording in the ad creates this idea that Poochigian is against California police officers. The ad does not provide reasons why Poochigian voted against the ban on the 50-caliber BMG rifle. However, it is unlikely that the reason was because Poochigian does not like or does not care about police officers and their safety. Finally, Kozicki talks about Poochigian's vote opposing a ban on 50-caliber BMG rifles and then states that Poochigian is too extreme for California. This is an illogical conclusion. There was no connective argument made about why Poochigian's stance on the BMG rifles is too extreme for California or even if his stance was a reason for him being too extreme for California.
 

The major claim in this ad that the 50-caliber weapon could shoot through two police cars is a distorted statement. If the bullets can fire through two police cars then it can also pass through two regular cars. But that is not how the ad was worded. The wording in this ad intended to pit Charles Poochigian against police officers by using the cop cars and public safety by saying the round could still kill “you”. While many law enforcement agencies endorsed Brown, it is unlikely that Poochigian is an enemy to police officers or to the California public.

The facts presented in the ad are correct. However, there is some disconnect between the facts and the conclusions presented in the ad. Overall, the ad was fairly accurate and receives a 7 for truthfulness. Overall, the ad was fairly accurate and receives an 7 for truthfulness.

Effectiveness: AAlthough gun control is not viewed as a major issue in the upcoming 2006 election and hasn't registered as an important issue in the past few elections, a majority of Californians consistently favors stronger gun laws. 12 Thus, Californians will recognize Jerry Brown as an ally in the pursuit of stronger gun control. The endorsement of the law enforcement associations and Kolzicki's presence in the ad give greater credibility to Brown's image as a politician who is tough on crime. 

Normally, negative ads are ineffective in promoting a candidate. They can often make the endorser (in this case, Jerry Brown) look sleazy, and distasteful for airing a mudslinging ad.13 This ad manages to steer clear of causing this type of damage to Brown's image. The ad is somewhat light. The music is upbeat for the most part. There are no deaths, confrontational scenes, or slanderous remarks about Poochigian. To the average viewer, the ad appears to be filled more with facts and figures (the computer visual of the round penetrating the two vehicles), rather than a dirty attack on Poochigian. The presence of a police officer also helps. This ad shows Poochigian as a supporter of guns. That could be very effective at swaying California voters away from Poochigian. 

The downside of the ad is that it did not focus on an issue that is currently a priority for California voters. Also, the ad could have the unintended consequence of mobilizing voters who oppose gun control. Overall, this ad receives an 8 for effectiveness.

Informative: The ad was somewhat informative. The two main informative pieces the average citizen can take from this ad are 1] Poochigian voted against banning the 50-caliber BMG rifle and 2] it listed six law enforcement associations that endorsed Jerry Brown for Attorney General. However, the ad did not provide any solid information about Jerry Brown's position on gun control or other issues that are pertinent to this election.

This ad scores a 5 for in the informative category. It had some new and valuable information, but not necessarily the most pertinent information for citizens to have or the information the majority of Californians care most about this election cycle.

To learn more about Jerry Brown, you can visit his website. A link is provided in the menu bar. Articles on Brown and Poochigian can be found on the 'Sites of Interest' Page.