the bongino report

Cringeworthy 2016 John Fetterman Ad Resurfaces


It’s getting weird out there. A campaign ad was released for John Fetterman but, as it turns out, it is an ad that has resurfaced from 2016. The ad is a parody of a classic Coke commercial with legendary football player Mean Joe Greene.

Those of us of a certain age remember the original ad. The Pittsburgh Steelers player, in the 1979 ad, is seen hobbling down a stadium tunnel and he’s being followed by a young boy. The boy tells Greene that he’s the “best ever” and offers Greene his bottle of Coke. It was a sweet ad at the time. In contrast, during Fetterman’s 2016 run for the Senate, his campaign cut an ad that was a parody and shows Fetterman also hobbling away as a young boy stops him, drinking a bottle of Coke.

The ad is unfortunate at this time as Fetterman’s gait is a part of the ad. As we know, Fetterman suffered a serious stroke a few months ago and his health is under scrutiny, as it should be, as he continues to run for office. You can tell the ad isn’t current by how Fetterman is speaking to the boy. He’s clear and he doesn’t hesitate as he struggles to find the right words, as he now does. In other words, he appears normal, as he did pre-stroke.

A reporter for the Washington Post blames Republicans for the ad resurfacing at this time.

Needless to say, there was a lot of confusion when the ad surfaced on Twitter. Some people didn’t understand the context. Some were just confused by the purpose of the ad. It is also creating some controversy because an old Coke jingle plays in the background. That brought about questions of whether or not Coke is officially endorsing Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race. What a mess. Oz’s campaign weighed in on it.

Fetterman’s tribute started catching attention when the ad was reposted on Thursday by Kyle Martinsen, a rapid response director at the Republican National Convention in Washington, D.C. Martinsen tweeted along with the video, “WHAT ON EARTH is this Fetterman ad…”

Martinsen’s video, which received over 2 million views as of Friday evening, was later given context by readers connecting Fetterman’s ad to the original.

Fetterman’s old advertisement, while not intended to be used during his tight 2022 Senate run against Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, also received criticism from Oz’s senior communications advisor Rachel Tripp, who reposted the video saying that viewers “didn’t get” the reference.

I would say that many of the viewers – there had been two million views by Friday – do understand the context but it’s confusing. It’s confusing because, without realizing it is an old ad, it appears the Fetterman campaign released an ad that compares Fetterman to an NFL athlete. It’s not any athlete, either, it’s a Hall of Famer who played for Pittsburgh. Why would a man who has suffered a stroke and is still recovering from it, both physically and mentally, wish to make such a comparison now? It’s just weird all the way around.

If the ad was released by Republicans, I’d say that surely there are other ads to use to show his weakness as a candidate. This looks like a lazy misfire that is being turned back on the GOP. With just a couple of days to go before Election Day and this race being one of the really tight toss-up races that may determine the majority in the Senate, this is no time to make careless mistakes. This just seems like an unforced error.

Apparently, the ad didn’t work out so well for Fetterman in 2016. He didn’t become Pennsylvania’s senator that year. Let’s hope he doesn’t win this time around, either.

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