The five women who created what Time magazine called the Most Sexist Republican Ad of the Year are not surprised at the firestorm of reaction sparked by the “Say Yes to the Dress” political commercial written, produced and sponsored by the College Republican National Committee.
“Democrats and their friends in the liberal media are at it again. Caught off-guard by our 16-state advertising launch, they’ve singled out one of the six ads and attacked it mercilessly because it accomplishes what they most fear – Republicans effectively reaching young voters,” Alex Smith, the first woman ever elected to the position of national chair of the College Republican National Committee, wrote in a statement.
Even though Democrats and liberals are blasting the ad as sexist, Smith told PJ Media the College Republican National Committee created it to help the GOP narrow its gender gap with women.
“Narrowing the gender gap within our party begins with addressing young women first,” she said. “That is where our party sees its biggest deficit.”
Smith and the other women on the CRNC staff went with the “Say Yes” theme not because it involved wedding dresses, but because it involved a show that women were watching, “Say Yes to the Dress,” which does happen to be about women shopping for wedding dresses.
This is not the first time Republicans have run a political ad in the 2014 campaigns that Democrats labeled as “sexist.”
Americans for Shared Prosperity ran an ad in September that compared President Obama to a “Bad Boyfriend.”
The “Say Yes” ad is running exclusively online on behalf of GOP gubernatorial candidates Rick Scott in Florida, Rick Snyder in Michigan, Bruce Rauner in Illinois, Bob Beauprez in Colorado and Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas.
The ad features a young women shopping for a wedding dress.
She falls in love with the “Rick Snyder,” “Rick Scott,” “Asa Hutchinson,” “Bob Beauprez” or “Bruce Rauner” dress, only to be criticized by her mother who prefers the dress named after the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in each state where the ad is running.
“Budget is a big thing for me now that I have graduated college,” Brittany, who is described as an “undecided voter,” explains in the ad. “The (Bruce Rauner, Rick Scott or Rick Snyder) is becoming the trusted brand. He has new ideas that don’t break your budget.”
But the bride’s mother explains that she likes the dress named after the Democrat in each gubernatorial race.
“It is overpriced and a little outdated but I know best,” says Brittany’s mother, Gloria, in the ad supporting Bruce Rauner. “And don’t forget it comes with additional costs. There’s the worst unemployment in the Midwest, millions in education cuts and the highest income tax in the nation.”
There’s no doubt about the ad’s political message. But sexist?
Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant believes it absolutely is, and she wants an apology.
“If Florida women needed another reminder that Rick Scott just isn’t on their side, they got one today. With his latest ad, sponsored by the College Republican National Committee, Rick Scott demonstrates that he doesn’t have a clue what’s important to women, or how to talk to us,” Tant said in a statement.
“Politicians like Rick Scott think the key to a woman’s vote is to ignore the issues and talk about dresses and reality TV. That’s insulting. Rick Scott should take down this ad immediately, and apologize.”
Cathy Bacile Cunningham, the press secretary for Democrat Mark Schauer in Michigan, was also outraged by the College Republican National Committee’s work.
“The wedding dress ad is sexist and condescending. It’s no wonder that Republicans have a problem with women voters,” said Cunningham. “Women are concerned with Rick Snyder’s $1 billion cut to education, his attacks on women’s access to health care and reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, and a multitude of issues that are far more important than picking out a dress. Dresses don’t factor into any choice women make in the voting booth on Election Day. Rick Snyder should denounce the ad.”
Smith said the criticism of the advertising campaign “isn’t only expected, it’s welcome.”
“We’re thrilled Democrats are so threatened by our ads that they are spending precious hours 33 days before the election to share our video that advocates for the defeat of their candidates. We appreciate the free publicity.”
Smith also said Democrats and liberals should not rush to the conclusion that women hate the ad that Time called “sexist.”
Smith said the ad is the result of “an unprecedented testing initiative that demonstrated their effectiveness long before they began running.”
She said the “Say Yes” ad was test marketed for four weeks and “our numbers improved by nearly double digits in our target demographic, women.”
All of the advertisements that the College Republican National Committee is rolling out, including “Say Yes to the Dress,” were evaluated through a series of focus groups.
Smith said the focus groups included voters aged 18-29 across the partisan, ideological, socioeconomic and professional spectrum. These voters came from states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Nevada.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said he thought the “Say Yes to the Dress” ad was “pretty clever.”
The College Republican National Committee has run other ads online and will continue to produce internet-based advertising aimed at younger voters. However, the “Say Yes” ad is the only message directed specifically at women.
“We didn’t expect Democrats to like our ad or the media to understand it,” said Smith. “Our ads are for young voters by young voters. In the end, they’ll prove effective.”