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If Firefighters Ran Congress

Number one on the list of TV commercials that make me cringe: Nextel shows us what it would be like if firefighters ran Congress:

One firefighter stands at the head of Congress saying, “Here’s a bunch of papers telling us we need clean water. You want clean water?”

Congress full of firefighters: “Aye.”

Ho, ho. Those firefighters sure can get things done fast, can’t they? None of this namby pamby rambling on over negotiations and hearings and procedures. If you want clean water, you just have a bunch of firefighters say “Aye”, and then the country gets clean water. You don’t need to read reports by scientists. You don’t have to have a plan. Forget the details. Gridlock gone! Water cleaner! Next problem!

The little hitch in all this is that having a bunch of people in Congress say “Aye” doesn’t make water cleaner. There are a lot of issues related to water pollution, and they need to be considered carefully. A plan for dealing with water pollution nationwide is an inherently complex thing.

This commercial insults the job of Congress, and in doing so, it insults the Constitution of the United States, and the voters who actually care about their country beyond the simpleton’s level of thinking, “Huh. I want clean water. Give me clean water.” The commercial insults firefighters too, suggesting that they have don’t have enough intelligence to see beyond an animal’s grunting level of problem solving.

Besides those real world problems, how does the commercial actually convince firefighters to buy heavy duty cell phones? The idea, I suppose, is to communicate the idea that Nextel heavy duty phones get the job done without any unnecessary hassle.

The problem is that the firefighter message isn’t at all connected to the pitch for the Nextel heavy duty phones. We get the firefighter scene, and then, there’s a 3 or 4 second statement showing a Nextel phone, telling us to buy one. The pitch for the phone is visually and conceptually distinct from the firefighters in Congress, as if it’s a separate commercial. A person might think that a political action group funded the first part, and Nextel the second part.

Dumb. Politically dumb. Motivationally dumb. If advertising agencies ran Congress, would the Representatives be able to concentrate for longer than 30 seconds?

6 comments to If Firefighters Ran Congress

  • It’s aimed at people who think a hockey mom and a plumber are qualified to run the country.

  • tom

    i’m afraid that there won’t be much country to run soon. Capitalism and the global system we’ve created and willingly participate in is unsustainable.

  • I totally agree with your assessment of this crappy Nextel commercial. I agree that government can sometimes be slow and sluggish, but thats because most decisions are not black and white. Things have to be discussed, planned, and researched. The one complaint I have with government is all this extra stuff they try and put into the bills. It would be nice if they simplified the process so that if you want somethign the bill should be for that one thing and one thing only. Not all these additional earmarks and such. I think Nextel was trying to take a stab at the government, but it was not accomplished and made them look a little dumb in the process.

    Now, the Nextel comercial where the roadies run the airport is pure gold! That was funny.

  • Garren

    Naw, it’s aimed at people who are full of them selves and make things harder that what it should be. If the Dems and Repubs got back to the basics of the way our government worked, instead of building little kingdoms, there wouldn’t be as much a need to lampoon them in this manner

    And Greg R, that Hockey Mom you disdain so much has more documented executive experience than the empty suit you most assuredly voted for. And the plumber you hold in contempt, until your camode backs up, showed more common sense than about 64M people that cast of votes on Nov. 4, 2008.

  • Don D

    Sorry, but to me this article is offensive. I am a firefighter, an oncall firefighter actually, so I am the guy that runs out of my house at 3AM and responds to every thing from vehicle accidents to grass fires. There was a study done a couple of years ago where it was found that the average citizen within the US would trust a firefighter more than a family member. I believe this commercial is simply restating that. Firefighters don’t have the luxury of debating their decisions or rallying up support for their decision. They make educated, life or death, decisions in the moment. That is what is expected of us and that is how we react. To label us as “simpletons” is a true sign of your maturity and level of respect for public service.

    • Well, Don, this just applies to you personally, but you couldn’t seem to even read the article properly. If you had, you would have noted that this article does not itself label firefighters as simpletons, but argues against that suggestion in the advertisement.

      So, I wouldn’t say that sort of thing about firefighters in general, but when it comes to you…

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