Missouri Rep. and Senate hopeful Todd Akin’s apology ad for his assertion that women’s bodies are able to prevent pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape”—a comment that left the public, political, and medical worlds reeling—is only the most recent example of a long tradition of political apology commercials.
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Akin’s 30-second TV spot succinctly expresses his regret for “using his words in the wrong way.”
There’s a certain art to a great apology ad. In the last decade, the standard format is that the spots: are 30-seconds long, play gentle elevator music, and show politicians in a seated or similarly casual and approachable position.
Jerry Springer—yes, that Jerry Springer—sprung for a 60-second spot in the ’80s. (He lost the race).
Christine O'Donnell, a former Republican Senate nominee for Delaware, ran this ad to apologise for past statements about experimenting with witchcraft.
'I am nothing you've heard, I am you,' the conservative politician said.
Even with the help of media producer, Fred Davis, O'Donnell still couldn't break the apology ad mould.
In this ad, Representative Pomeroy opens with: 'I'm not Nancy Pelosi.' In case the public couldn't tell.
Pomeroy was apologizing to constituents for a disappointing 'vote here or there' during his previous term.
He lost the election.
Former Florida Rep. Tom Feeney took to the tube when the public found out he went on a golfing trip with a known, corrupt lobbyist. The ad acknowledges Feeney's 'rookie' mistake pointing out that he had done everything he knew to rectify the situation.
Former Pennsylvania Rep. (R) Don Sherwood apologized in this 'Count Me In' ad for his extramarital affair. He adamantly denies the abuse allegations brought against him and closes the ad with the statement: 'Should you forgive me, you can count on me to continue fighting hard.'
Sherwood lost the election.
Switching up the apology ad format, Springer placed this 50-second spot to ask for forgiveness for paying for a prostitute (by check) nine years prior. Springer might not have won the race, but maybe the spot gave him an idea for his next career...
Benjamin Franklin wrote one of the first political apologies found. Since there wasn't a television back in the 18th century, Franklin penned an ad/essay that went on for pages.
Franklin's 'apology,' published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, explains why he printed truth rather than popular public opinion. Titled 'Apology for Printers,' Franklin wrote: 'Being frequently censur'd and condemn'd by different Persons for printing Things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing Apology for my self...when truth and error have fair play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter.''
Here's the full text of his apology.
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