Mystic car dealer builds ad contest around Trump's wall

I am certainly no marketing expert, which may be why the wisdom of a decision by a Mystic car dealer to run an advertising campaign centered around President Donald Trump's border wall eludes me.

After all, Trump's wall is a polarizing political issue, one of the best examples of what has come to divide us. The fight led to the shutdown of the government for weeks and is the subject of protests around the country.

It is also, according to the president and his supporters, at the root of a national emergency, the solution to an unfolding humanitarian crisis at our southern border.

On the other side of that proposed wall is a cascade of crime and drugs we must keep out of our country, according to the president. We need the wall to stop the flow of drugs from Mexico, "one of the most dangerous countries in the world," President Trump said in one tweet.

So why turn what some consider a national crisis into a cute contest? The ads even include a jingle.

"We want to put you over the wall," begins the cheery advertisement for Brustolon Buick GMC of Mystic, which airs regularly on the Ledyard-based conservative talk radio station 94.9, which is named as a co-sponsor of the contest for a free trip to Mexico.

Listeners, after hearing a series of recordings of the president calling for a wall, are invited to call in and register for an invitation to a party in which the name of a winner of a trip to Mexico will be drawn.

Keeping the tone light, the ad suggests you won't have to "tunnel under" the wall and they will "keep you out of a caravan" with hotel accommodations.

The ads acknowledge the political controversy — "There's a ton of talk about the wall" — but then teases about the "blue water and beautiful beaches" on the other side.

This is, of course, a far cry from the dark rhetoric about Mexico coming from the president.

"We are going to El Paso," President Trump said in promoting his recent rally at the dangerous southern border. "We're going there to keep our country safe, and we don't want murderers and drug dealers and gang members, MS-13, and some of the worst people in the world coming into our country. We need a wall."

I left a message asking about the wall advertising campaign with Brustolon President Cindy Brustolon Casey. Neither she nor anyone else from the dealership called me back.

I wanted to ask how successful the campaign has been.

Again, I know nothing about marketing or selling cars, but building a sales pitch around a divisive political issue seems like a real loser. Even most barbers, it seems to me, know to steer clear of polarizing political issues when moderating customer conversations in the shop.

It's also a puzzle to me why you would make light about something so important to Trump supporters, in a radio forum full of conservative listeners and Trump voters.

After all, who wants to enter a contest to be sent to a place you believe is infested with murderers and drug dealers all scheming to get across our southern border?

And why would you feel good about a business that appears to be making fun of your president's signature political initiative?

Are the radio station and advertiser suggesting we are not supposed to take all that on-air talk about walling off the criminals of Mexico seriously?

I am on the other side of this debate, someone who believes in Trump administration statistics, that most drugs come through the border stations not over the countryside, that more crimes are committed by Americans than immigrants and that most illegals arrive through airports and overstay visas. I also remember the president promising Mexico would pay for the wall.

I don't think even the president believes his rhetoric. I believe the president's wall campaign is a racist whistle to his base. Why isn't he proposing that a wall be built at the Canadian border?

And yet even I am not motivated by an advertisement that makes fun of the president's policy.

The last thing in the world that would interest me in an advertisement would be a series of recordings of President Trump shouting about his wall, which is how the Brustolon ad begins.

It doesn't make me want to buy a Buick.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

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