Analysis: Selling themselves

Parties try to 'rebrand' their leaders overnight, but newcomers make the biggest impression.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 28, 2009 02:21
2 minute read.
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elections2009_248. (photo credit: )

 
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Rebranding is a marketing process to change the image of a product that normally takes a couple years. Thirty-four parties began that process on Monday night, when broadcasts of political commercials commenced. But they have only two weeks before the February 10 election to pull it off. If you believe everything on television, Kadima head Tzipi Livni is a military hero, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu is a prophet, Labor chairman Ehud Barak has never lied and Shas chairman Eli Yishai is the defender of Jerusalem. Due to decreasing interest in the election commercials, the Knesset decided to shorten the time allotted to them from three weeks to two and the three networks moved them out of prime time. Among the people who actually watched the commercials, chances are that few people changed their minds and few undecided voters learned enough to decide. But if anyone needed help deciding who not to vote for, the parties provided an important service. Likud and Kadima gave people reasons not to vote for each other, the two religious-Zionist parties added more reasons not to vote Likud, and two parties tried to persuade people not to vote for Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. Perhaps there were three? Balad's ad was entirely in Arabic. The only ads people will remember are ones with gimmicks, like Labor's mechanic saying that Barak can't do his job because he can't lie; Israel Beiteinu's claim that only Lieberman speaks Arabic; and the Likud's with Livni and other top Kadima leaders pretending to be Netanyahu. But the best gimmicks were in the commercials of the small parties that have never entered the Knesset. The Israelim electoral reform party featured a man waving two pairs of white briefs and saying that voting for one of the current parties is like putting on yesterday's dirty underwear. The Greens featured two talking cockroaches. The Green Movement had its chairman Michael Melchior hoist a broom. The Power to the Handicapped Party showed a man in a wheelchair trying unsuccessfully to get into an automatic door, while a dog had greater success. But perhaps the most memorable commercial was that of the Green Leaf Graduates and Holocaust Survivors Party, the strange combination that resulted from the split in Green Leaf and the offer by the Holocaust Survivors Party to let the losers among the smokers run with them. The two leaders of the party traded places for the commercial. Former Green Leaf head Ohad Shem-Tov didn't look too strange speaking in favor of more benefits for Holocaust survivors, but Holocaust Survivors Party chairman Ya'akov Kfir looked ridiculous pushing for legalized pot. "For us, the Holocaust survivors, we have a moral obligation get this plant legalized," he said. Now that's a brand that's really tough to buy.

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