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Illinois group outpaces Engage RI in the pension commercial sweepstakes

October 21, 2011

By now, many Rhode Islanders have seen the pro-pension overhaul commercial sponsored by Engage RI, the coalition of mostly business and social service groups backing Treasurer Gina Raimondo’s reform effort. It’s a straightforward comparison-contrast spot whose 24-second message is simple: pension reform = good; inaction = bad.

For the many Rhode Islanders with just a passing interest in civic life and the nuances of a complex topic like pensions, the Engage RI commercial might be enough to make an impression.

Yet it certainly lacks the dramatic power and creativity of a 30-second spot sponsored by a group called Illinois is Broke. Take a look for yourself:

For contrast, here’s the Engage RI spot:

Engage RI’s commercial starts with a grim black and white image of the Statehouse with thunder and lightning in the background. It warns of how Rhode Island is facing $7 billion in unfunded liability, “$7000 for every Rhode Islander.”  There are more stark black and white images before a narrator intones, “But there’s hope,” and the screen shifts to upbeat scenes of people working, going to school, a bobbing sailboat, and sunny vistas.

By contrast, the Illinois is Broke commercial presents an unseen figure (the State of Illinois) door-knocking a prototypical mom as she holds a daughter who looks about three years old. Let’s go to the dialogue:

State of Illinois: “Our retirement plans are $140 billion short, so we need some of your money.”

Mom: “Well, things are a little right right now. I–”

State of Illinois: “We need $30,000. You can pay $857 a year for 35 years or $71 a month, not including interest, of course.”

Mom: “Are you nuts? I’ll be 70 by the time I pay that off. And besides, I just paid my taxes.”

State of Illinois: [Ominously] “I wasn’t talking to you.”

The commercial closes with the message, “Our Children Will Pay.”

UPDATE: Via Twitter, Engage RI spokesman Jon Duffy says:

Given the emotions involved in the pension reform debate, I think the positive, hopeful tone is much more appropriate.
5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mister Guy permalink
    October 21, 2011 8:58 pm

    Engage RI is nothing but a sham front-group for businesses, pro-GOP Karl Rove Super PAC groups & the Chamber of Commerce. They were literally in favor of Raimondo’s pension reform plan weeks & weeks BEFORE IT WAS EVER ANNOUNCED! They must think that the people of RI are stupid.

  2. John Q Public permalink
    October 28, 2011 12:22 am


    Watch Michael Moore’s
    “Capitalism: A Love Story”
    before it’s too late.

    Follow the $…who funds EngageRI…

    Treasurer climbed on bandwagon
    too quickly.

    99%ers speak up!

    Fear sells; remember the bailout?

  3. Jill Q Public permalink
    October 29, 2011 8:12 pm

    I was at the Sate House the day EngageRI held the rally. Some people from that group arrived in a limo!!! I carpooled in a pick up truck that has monthly payments on it.

    • Mister Guy permalink
      November 1, 2011 2:17 am

      Yup, they are nothing but a bunch of rich business people that could care less about the middle class. The good news is…the *real* facts about this phony front-group shine through very, very clearly.


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