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Good TV advertising works when it convinces you to identify with its message. Whether you act on the message is up to you, but convincing you to identify with the message is a triumph for the advertiser because their ad produced an attractive way to say something smart about their product, and you “heard” it.

I love good TV advertising. It entertains me, it gives me a moment of aesthetic pleasure and occasionally it challenges me to think. It can be poetry when done well in 30 seconds.

You may not believe it, but local advertising is a statement about where you live. It reflects the personality of the city where it airs.

There are some great local TV ads in San Diego. I love the ads for Rubio’s Mexican Grill. They make me hungry by borrowing from memories or fantasies of surfside fish taco fun, allowing me to identify with a staple of local life.  

I also love the commercials from the property firm of Irving Hughes: “Life is a lease. Negotiate well.” This is a huge concept. Their advertising taps a universal truth in a city where real estate is king.  

In 2008, Assemblyman Marty Block impressed me when he ran a simple television ad demonstrating with a hand drawn chart on a white board what was at stake in his election. He won his race.  

I hate bad TV advertising. It’s annoying, insulting, confusing and hard to understand. It assumes I’m a fool. There are plenty of bad TV ads in San Diego. Too many local advertisers don’t know why they’re advertising or what they’re trying to say. As a result, they are not only selling themselves short, but dumbing down our town.  

Does it bother you that every other ad on local TV is for a bail bondsman or a bankruptcy lawyer or somebody trying to sell you cheap furniture just because it’s cheap and “available for same day delivery?” What does that say about San Diego?

I want to scream when “The White Glove Guys” sing. Their slogan makes no sense to anyone unfamiliar with what they do. White gloves are for the Junior League, not people who install air conditioning.  

So what I’m saying is, “Jerome, Kerry Steigerwalt, King Stahlman and others, put some thought into your advertising. You’ll leave your customers — and your city — a little bit smarter.”

There’s really no reason why “America’s Finest City” can’t also have just a few of America’s finest ads.

— BOB STEIN

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