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Dixon's latest aims to generate an 'aw' response from viewers

The Baltimore Sun

Mayor Sheila Dixon plays on the cute factor in her most recent television advertisement, which began airing this week and that presents a rosy picture of Baltimore under her tenure. The 30-second spot is Dixon's fourth and the ninth overall in this race.

What the ad says: A young girl is seen walking through a neighborhood on her way to school. A male narrator says: "It's her future. She's Baltimore's future, with a safer walk to school on cleaner streets, with less violence."

As the girl is seen adjusting her backpack and arriving at school, the narrator continues: "A mayor committed to after-school opportunities that keep our kids safe and a city that demands accountability and higher standards of excellence. Tough on crime, smart investments in our schools, bringing pride back to our neighborhoods." In that last scene, Dixon is seen sitting next to another child who is holding a basketball. "Sheila Dixon," the narrator concludes. "Mayor."

The facts: So many ads, so few facts. This one maintains the pattern of fact-free ads coming out of both camps. The advertisement never claims that streets are cleaner or safer, but rather seems to suggest those things might happen in the future - perhaps when the girl is grown. Dixon has made making the city cleaner a centerpiece of her administration, but it is not clear whether the city is any cleaner or greener than it was eight months ago. Crime is down overall, but homicides and nonfatal shootings have increased since Dixon took office. The mayor has virtually no control over education standards, though the ad vaguely suggests she does. Dixon's campaign said the young girl in the ad is a student at Leith Walk Elementary School and that her family supports the campaign.

Analysis: Like the puppy dogs of 2006, this spot is aiming for the "aw" factor. It is no surprise that this advertisement barely mentions Dixon's name until the very end - this is exactly the kind of feel-good advertisement someone who is in the leading position in a campaign is apt to air.

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