News & Opinion


Why is This London Commuter in an Obama Ad?

Online publication:
The Daily Beast

February 5, 2014

A new advertisement by a pro-Obama lobby group features stirring images of Americans hard at work. But among the factory and office workers is a commuter photographed on the London Overground.
It begins with an elegaic image of a guy in a pick-up truck, illuminated by the setting sun. It ends with an American family on a porch, beside a fluttering Stars and Stripes.

When it crafted the 30-second advertisement advocating a minimum wage of $10.10 and equal pay for women, the pro-Obama non-profit group Organizing For Action conceived some beautiful, symbolic images to evoke America hard at work.

But there was one problem, as Britain’s Daily Telegraph pointed out: one of the glancing scenes of hard-working Americans features the very un-American image of a female commuter on the London Overground train system. The woman is shown holding a cup of coffee, looking thoughtfully out of the window.

Quite what she is doing there, or how she demonstrates the President’s point—perhaps she is being a very hard-working American on a business trip in Britain—is a mystery. Until now. An OFA official told The Daily Beast, “It was brought to our attention that there was an error in the stock footage and it is being corrected immediately, this does not change the fact that Americans deserve a raise.”

The advertisement urges Congress to help the president achieve both aims, which he set out in his State of the Union address—and uses other images of workers in coffee shops, factories and offices. A sonorous voiceover intones, “You’ve worked hard all day, every day, and it shows … eight million new jobs, businesses, factories, new hope,” and ends by imploring Congress to “give America a raise—we’ve earned it.”

OFA may have shot itself in the foot by using the incorrect stock footage. In the U.K., home to that rogue London commuter, the adult national minimum wage is £6.31 an hour, slightly more (it translates to $10.29) than what Obama is suggesting for U.S. workers.