RJR right to suspend Portia tracing ad

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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If the Gary Allen-led Radio Jamaica (RJR) Group had not suspended that distasteful television tracing commercial featuring Mrs Portia Simpson Miller, pending possible editing, we would have called for it ourselves.


And we cry shame on the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) advertising crew who seem to believe that pandering to the lowest common denominator is acceptable. In fact, we are disappointed because that same crew has produced some classy print ads that would have carried their message appropriately.


It may well be that the people who produced the ad are getting desperate. Many people have been commenting that the radio and television advertising campaigns of the two major political parties have fallen flat, lacking in excitement and imagination, and comparing them unfavourably to previous campaigns.


To be fair to the RJR Group, they have suspended commercials submitted by the People's National Party (PNP) as well, on the same basis that there were issues that needed adjustment to meet their broadcast standards. This approach applies equally to general ads and is nothing new.


But if it is believed that ads such as the Portia tracing commercial was the answer to this dearth of creativity, then the JLP has made a sad, very sad mistake.


Jamaicans have been clamouring for a new type of politics and wanting to put behind them the nasty, hurtful campaigning that ended up solidifying the ugly tribal divisions that have characterised our politics. This is borne out by the spontaneous celebration-like atmosphere that marked the recent Nomination Day activities, when supporters of the Opposition PNP and the ruling JLP -- clad in their party regalia -- danced, sang and mingled together without the customary fights and mayhem.


Naturally, the Portia ad would have been tempting and the JLP, unwisely, yielded to temptation. Indeed, the JLP ad script writers might want to argue that Mrs Simpson Miller did rant and rave from a party platform in 2007.


But they can't have it both ways. JLP leader Mr Andrew Holness, the undoubted trump card in the JLP's deck, has campaigned on the basis of a new politics, saying he represents the renewal that Jamaicans have been longing for. As the first post-Independence party leader, he has promised civility and decency and to take the high road.


That ad is inconsistent with that position and cannot stand. It may even suggest that the producers are hardly better than the thing they hope voters will abhor in the opposition leader.


The people will judge Mrs Simpson Miller as to her character, as they did in 2007. The JLP needs to have a little more faith in the good sense of the Jamaican voter.


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