Imagine my surprise the other night when, in the midst of enjoying an episode of Friday Night Lights on Hulu (Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!), a commercial popped on featuring Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. And not just any John Suthers -- an animated John Suthers straight out of South Park, one riding a skateboard, wearing a baby bib, and telling kids to say no to underage drinking. Worked for me: When I start seeing stuff like that, I know it's time to go easy on the moonshine.
Turns out I wasn't hallucinating. The animated web ad was fully sanctioned by the AG, reports spokesperson Mike Saccone. Suthers and other attorneys general have been doing such spots for years on the behalf of the Century Council, a nonprofit fighting drunk driving and underage drinking that was founded by alcohol distillers. While the videos in years past have been the conventional sort, featuring Suthers hanging out with inspiring Olympiads, etc., the Century Council decided to shake things up a bit this year:
"If this is another way to reach kids to keep them from abusing alcohol, we'll give it a shot," says Saccone.
Some props are owed to Suthers and the Century Council for going out on a limb on this one -- and heck, it caught our attention. Still, it's hard to ignore the fact that the idea of the ads themselves -- public service announcements featuring old folks on skateboards and bemoaning the evils of alcohol that are being bankrolled by the evil alcohol distillers -- almost sounds like an episode straight out of South Park.
And then there's the fact that this isn't the first time Suthers has gotten the South Park treatment.
"Yes, I am aware the ad somewhat resembles a certain Stan Garnett ad," concedes Saccone. He's referring to an attack ad put out last campaign season by losing AG candidate Stan Garnett, one that appears to feature the nearly very same South Park Suthers:
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Still, says Saccone, "This new one has a much higher production value, and has a much more positive message."
Unfortunately, neither one has South Park Suthers getting eviscerated, stomped on, flambéd or otherwise eradicated in some gruesome way, followed by Stan saying, "Oh my God, they killed Attorney General John Suthers! You bastards!"
If you really want to connect with kids these days, that's the way to do it.
More from our Media archive: "Judgment Day is coming May 21: Downtown billboard guarantees it." Follow Joel Warner on Twitter @joelmwarner