A few days ago I saw a very effective political commercial. I have grown tired of attack ads where the opposing candidate is depicted in black and white while the foreboding music plays in the background and the ominous voice-over tells of his or her evil plot to ruin our lives. This commercial was different. It was created and financed by self-made billionaire Thomas Peterffy.
Mr. Peterffy, who pioneered electronic trading practices in U.S. markets and now leads discount-brokerage giant Interactive Brokers, embodies the rags-to-riches American dream. Born during World War II in Hungary, he spent his childhood behind the Iron Curtain, where he says the country’s national spirit was eroded by a system that took away the drive of its people to work hard, build businesses, and create jobs. He left for the U.S. as a young man and today his net worth has been estimated at more than $4 billion.
The ad is powerful because it is not only Mr. Peterffy’s perspective, it’s narrated by him in broken English and shown on TV with subtitles. He doesn’t attack the current administration but makes his case from the heart and from personal experience.
Whether you agree with his conclusions is not important. What’s important is that you are compelled to listen and try to understand what he is saying. He opens the commercial by saying, “I grew up in a socialist country, and I have seen what that does to people. There is no hope, no freedom, no pride in achievement. The nation became poorer and poorer. And that’s what I see happening here.” One of my favorite lines is: “in socialism the richer will be poorer but the poorer will also be poorer.”
Just in a few seconds you hear the word poor mentioned many times. While it might not be great writing or very subtle, it’s quite effective in driving his message home.
This is the first political commercial I’ve seen in years that has got my attention and spoken to me. Perhaps because like Mr. Peterffy, I came to America to pursue my dream and, like him, I want to preserve what has made this country a place I chose to call home for the past 30 years.
What is your take on this commercial?