Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s ‘groin gate’ ad named best of summer

The Mike McFadden U.S. Senate campaign has made lemonade from lemons with its latest ad, which shows the Republican coaching youth football. 

Despite the fact that the ad has drawn snickers for apparently showing McFadden taking a hit to the groin from one his young players (and quickly dubbed “groin gate” on social media), named it one of the six best political ads of the summer.

“He nails the all-American dad image with this advertisement, and when you are running against comedian-turned-senator Al Franken, it’s always good to be funny,” the magazine noted.

McFadden communications director Tom Erickson acknowledged the controversy about the alleged groin hit even while maintaining that the ad depicts a hit to the stomach. McFadden’s Facebook page shows a dozen comments, positive and negative, though Erickson didn’t deny a report in Buzzfeed that early negative comments about the ad had been taken down. 

“As with everything in life, there’s going to be something some people don’t like,” he said.  “We’re just happy to talk about Mike’s background.” McFadden has been coaching the Mendota Heights Youth Athletic Association for 13 years.

The ad, created by Something Else Strategies, an agency based in Washington, D.C., will continue running this week statewide in what Erickson called a “significant six-figure buy.” 

Erickson suggested that future ads would continue with a light-hearted approach to the campaign, similar to the ads that Bill Hillsman created for Jesse Ventura in the 1998 governor’s race.

“We’re getting a lot of feedback, especially when people remember the 2008 [Al Franken-Norm Coleman] Senate campaign that got so nasty so quick,” he said.  “We’ll continue to show the light hearted side that you don’t see too much from politicians.”

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Comments (47)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 07/15/2014 - 09:18 am.


    The last thing McFadden wants to get into is a serious discussion of the issues. That’s Franken’s home court.

  2. Submitted by Sean Olsen on 07/15/2014 - 09:53 am.

    The comedy situation is an interesting one, because if Franken produced funny ads, McFadden’s team would be quick to seize on it and say “look, he’s just a comedian”.

  3. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 07/15/2014 - 10:14 am.

    Not funny

    The pictures in an ad show where the candidate’s focus lies. Mr McFadden is demonstrating his commitment to healthy, white boys from prosperous families in this ad. Who else can afford off-season practices in sparkling white uniforms?

    Minnesota needs leaders who know our world is more complicated and that government has primary obligations to the underserved among us.

  4. Submitted by Jon Lord on 07/15/2014 - 10:46 am.

    It’s frustrating

    to see this commercial. It’s upscale lily white all the way as Beth-Ann notices also. It’s hard to miss. It’s so narrow and unenlightened about our society as a whole.

    And the groin hit…what the…?

    And teaching the kids how to block like the GOP held house blocks everything proposed by the President and the Senate! That’s the message I see.

    And the magazine says this is the image of the All American dad? Every time I see this ad I switch channels, wait 5 minutes, and (sometimes) switch back.

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/15/2014 - 12:26 pm.

      I don’t understand

      If you people insist that republicans are all suburban, middleclass white people, then wouldn’t it make sense for his ads to reflect that? Anything else would be a dishonest representation, would it not?

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 07/15/2014 - 02:17 pm.

        It’s not the we insist that… it’s mostly borne out as fact… but it gets at something else. In 2012, at least nationally, Romney only got 17% of the non-white vote. If the Republican party is to remain viable, it needs to attract non-white voters, but it’s M.O. the past several election cycles has been to try and rally the whites-only base with massive social wedge issues. As the GOP becomes incredibly homogeneous, it ends up being entirely NON representative of the general population (which is expected to be over 54% non-white by 2060), and then seeks to pit it’s base against the rest of society. It creates a negative feedback loop by adopting radical fringe positions each election cycle, which drives moderates out of the party, and then compounds on that problem every two years. It’s at the point that if any Republican tries to adopt any policy position that is important to many women, african-americans, immigrants, hispanics, GLBT, etc etc, they will get crushed in the primary.

        I’d like to say that it’s been fun to watch the self-immolation of the GOP, but it’s burning everyone else in America.

        • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/15/2014 - 03:39 pm.

          What I find amusing

          is that the only people who believe this are white liberals. You’re a white liberal, most of the people on this site are white liberals, yet you all seem concerned that all republicans are white people.

          Well guess what? I’m a non-white conservative and every non-white person I know votes republican. Wrap your white suburban brain around that.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 07/15/2014 - 04:25 pm.

            Give our regards

            to both of them.

          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 07/16/2014 - 10:10 am.

            My guess would be that it’s only white conservatives who DON’T believe this. And it’s not hard to wrap my brain around the fact that you only associate with politically like-minded people.

          • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 07/16/2014 - 10:33 am.

            The only people who believe this…

            I’ll offer this article from NEWSMAX to refute your argument that “the only people who believe this are white liberals.”


          • Submitted by Jon Lord on 07/17/2014 - 09:04 am.


            I know non-white people who distinctly dislike conservative values.

            I also know white people who are not rich and are still conservatives. They don’t make policy though nor are they trying to. Generally they are single issue only voters. I would describe them as non-rational voters.

            You are part native-American. I know full Native-Americans who do not like conservative values because it hurts them.

            This current crop of republicans who are well positioned politically, and those elected, are largely wealthy white conservatives who do not like or care for anyone who isn’t in their moneyed class. They’ll put up with moneyed non-whites only if they claim to be conservatives. If they are not wealthy then they will forget about them regardless if they vote conservative or not.

            Not all wealthy white people are conservatives. Most white people who are not wealthy are not conservatives.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/15/2014 - 12:36 pm.

      Don’t let it bother you, Jon….

      the entire mentality of the GOP rests in utter simplicity. If their core tenets can’t fit on the average size bumper sticker, the vast majority of their voting bloc loses interest. That’s why they stick with slogans like “Nobama” & “fight socialism” or flag lapel pins. It’s no surprise that they would love a commercial that features a guy getting kicked in the nads. Their sense of humor is why Larry the Cable Guy has a career.

      • Submitted by Jon Lord on 07/17/2014 - 09:12 am.

        this is true

        and the duck dynasty fakers careers fit in there too. Their whole shtick is simplistically anti-rational.

  5. Submitted by James Miller on 07/15/2014 - 10:51 am.

    Best Ad?

    “He nails the all-American dad image with this advertisement, and when you are running against comedian-turned-senator Al Franken, it’s always good to be funny,” the magazine noted. The image that Dad’s are doofuses? What’s admirable about that?
    The fact is that Al has NOT been funny as a senator, but has been, if anything, a sober policy wonk. Cyndy, why do you quote shoddy journalism? The ad has no new ideas, just the same recycled Republican messages which we’ve heard for months. He wants to eliminate the ACA, and replace it with what? Why laud an ad that has nothing but the same tired stereotype of Dad as a bumbler, and no new Republican ideas?

  6. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/15/2014 - 11:24 am.


    The comedic value–such as it is–of a kid punching an adult in the piece is diminished by its near constant repetition. Of course, Mr. McFadden doesn’t have any new ideas on policy, so it isn’t surprising that his campaign team would let things go stale as quickly as they did.

  7. Submitted by David Frenkel on 07/15/2014 - 11:33 am.

    Another low point in poltics

    Is the election about poor comedy or does this country have serious problems that need to be discussed in the upcoming election? The Republican Party continues to show its base are white primarily middle aged men. Talk about the tough issues not this silliness and yes leave the children at home.

  8. Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 07/15/2014 - 02:18 pm.

    Popular with WHOM?

    So just who is it who finds this commercial so appealing? Obviously nobody here. It’s just stupid and certainly has nothing to do with anything I care about in politics.

  9. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 07/15/2014 - 07:42 pm.

    White Guilt

    Just as gays can’t help the fact they were born gay and blacks can’t help it that they were born black, white men can’t help it that they were born white men. What irritates me is the self loathing guilt ridden sanctimonious white liberals who feel that they rise to a higher moral platform when they attack their own on the basis of race.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/16/2014 - 03:14 am.

      They’re not being attacked

      based on their race…they’re being attacked because of their antiquated, xenophobic world views.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/16/2014 - 07:41 am.

        Then why bring up their race at all? I laff every time I see a leftist call a “Lilly white” man a racist, or a bigot. The cluelessness is fascinating.

        • Submitted by Jon Lord on 07/17/2014 - 09:26 am.


          So the KKK shouldn’t be called racist by a white person in your view of the world? See, the view this ad promotes is white upper-class. Do you see why? Or are you clueless about that?

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 07/16/2014 - 07:52 am.

      They don’t get it Pavel. It’s like the MSNBC hamster mocking Mitt Rimney’s black grandchild. Complete disconnect with reality.

      • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 07/16/2014 - 10:26 am.

        I remember that. Melissa Harris-Perry was roundly criticized and apologized to Mitt Romney, as she should have. I think it’s disgusting when pundits or commentators attack anyone’s children. But that’s one talking head on an op-ed show on MSNBC. How is that any different from the vastly more objectionable things that Rush Limbaugh has said that he’s never apologized for over the past 30 years? I remember him making fun of a 13-year old Chelsea Clinton, and calling Barack Obama the ‘magic negro.’ Or Ted Nugent, or Glenn Beck, or or Bradlee Dean, or Michele Bachmann… all people with ‘complete disconnects from reality.’

      • Submitted by jason myron on 07/16/2014 - 11:08 am.

        “Complete disconnect from reality”

        This coming from the party of faux scandals, conspiracy and made up facts. The irony should be too thick…even for you.

    • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 07/16/2014 - 09:43 am.

      Pavel, I think it’s a good thing that you recognize that gay people are indeed just born gay- that in and of itself does set you apart from Mrs. Swift, Tester, and Appelein. But I think you are confusing our intent when we make observations about how racially homogeneous a political campaign is. America gets less and less white with each passing year, and therefore the Republican party, a political entity that exclusively panders to a single ethnicity, becomes less and less representative every year. As a white person, I don’t view this as ‘attacking my own race,’ or even as an attack, for that matter. I consider myself part of the human race, not the white race.

  10. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/16/2014 - 06:26 am.

    Intern gate

    What this story means is that some intern, working at a website for a magazine no one reads, one that in some small measure, competes with this magazine, liked something.

    In the small way I work with people in communications, I always say to them, tell us what you think, not what someone else thinks. Ms. Brucato is an opinion writer. What’s her opinion? Why is she telling us about the opinion of someone else?

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/16/2014 - 09:35 am.

      Did the intern really like it?

      Or was there pressure from his/her overseers to come up with a list that included ads for both parties, so Time could show how “balanced” they are?

      • Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/17/2014 - 07:11 am.


        Whenever I see a writer criticize one party and then immediately go on to say the other party does it too, I know I am reading nonsense. It’s not that equivalences don’t occur, it’s just that they are unlikely. Or at least a whole lot less likely than the fact that the writer is trying to insert balance in the story to avoid criticism, whether there is balance to be found or not.

  11. Submitted by Bruce Johnson on 07/16/2014 - 12:55 pm.

    Another award-winning ad:

  12. Submitted by Bill Kahn on 07/16/2014 - 12:56 pm.

    All McFadden needs is a jingle to seal the deal, one that works just as well as this one:

  13. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 07/17/2014 - 07:16 am.


    In any event, journalists reporting the opinions of other journalists is one of my pet peeves. Tell us what you think, not what your colleagues think. If I were interested in their opinions I would be reading their websites, quite possibly instead of yours. And who knows, if it’s journalists write effectively and well, maybe it will be covering MinnPost instead of the other way around.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/18/2014 - 08:05 am.

    Why Time instead of WCCO?

    Why are we talking about the reaction at “Time” instead of WCCO right here in the MN? Apparently the on air personalities over at WCCO got an earful of angry calls and e-mails when they brought up the Mcfadden ad.

    The big complaint was the deployment of children for political effect. Turns out baby boomers don’t like it when politicians politicize children by portraying them as partisan hacks. 1) Are you telling us that call children are Republicans? 2) Are you telling us that children are a source of incontestable political wisdom? 3) Are you telling us that children who punch a guy in the groin are funny?

    It looks like none of these messages sat well with a lot of viewers. Sure, you have to go all the way to New York City to find people who think this is a great political ad.

  15. Submitted by John Appelen on 07/18/2014 - 08:33 pm.

    Truth in advertising

    If this is the team, then he just showed the truth.
    If he had shown his work with minorities or charity, folks here would question his sincerity.

    The reality is that none of the Liberal commenters here could be swayed by anything he showed, said or did. And the good thing is that you are not the people being targeted.

    Moderates are the target and I think it will play well with them. Definitely better than Franken’s let government save you message.

    • Submitted by Richard Helle on 07/18/2014 - 10:40 pm.


      As the following chart shows, year 2000 had a 236 billion dollar surplus. 4 years later, 412 billion dollar deficit.

      Moderates will wait to hear if McFadden offers anything different. If McFadden abandons the failed supply side economic nonsense, aggressively encourages worker organization, and advocates for single payer health care insurance he may stand a chance.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/19/2014 - 08:54 am.

        Maybe there will be another world wide technological break through to help?

        “An equally if not more powerful influence was the booming economy and huge gains in the stock markets, the so-called dot-com bubble, which brought in hundreds of millions in unanticipated tax revenue from taxes on capital gains and rising salaries.”

        I wonder who bore the fallout of the collapsing tech bubble? The poor management of terrorist cells? etc

        And remember that Clinton had Congress stifling his tendency to spend.

        I think people paying their own way, and only helping those who truly need it will play well with most people who pay income taxes. Along with only paying government employees market wage. Remember that folks like us need to be taxed higher to pay for those higher than market wage benefits and salaries.

        • Submitted by Richard Helle on 07/19/2014 - 07:00 pm.

          Weak sauce

          600 billion dollar turn around in the economy in 4 years, not counting the costs of 2 wars never on the books. It’s absolutely specious blaming that on the so called tech bubble bursting. What moderates remember is that Democrats manage the economy, Republicans mine it.

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/20/2014 - 05:06 am.


            Personally I like pendulums and grid lock.

            Democrats in control are proving again that they pull too hard and fast toward the left when they have control. (ie ACA, MN Spending/Tax Increases, Gay marriage legalization, etc) And I do not think the Democratic Socialist plan will work in America.

            Republicans seem to go too far towards cutting taxes and are too resistant to social changes like gay marriage.

            We will find out who is correct this Fall.

            • Submitted by Richard Helle on 07/20/2014 - 08:58 am.

              This fall

              To some extent, I agree. Voters will be asked to choose between affordable health care insurance, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, and equal rights, or the alternative of year after year of budget crisis, bridges falling down, and high unemployment. For most moderates, the vote they’ll cast has already been decided. It’ll be the choice between what works and what doesn’t. It’s not difficult

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/20/2014 - 04:08 pm.

                Good Spin

                I don’t know enough to speak for them. My guess though is that they are still sizing up the candidates. I mean that is why these folks spend so much money on advertisements.

                Folks need to remember that people like myself are paying more for health insurance to subsidize the health insurance of others… (for better or worse) I am not sure I wanted to pay for a new Vikings stadium (infrastructure), which Dayton championed. Just paying state employees more instead of fighting to control costs seems like it would be unpopular with us tax payers. Sending more state aid into local government instead of having them raise money by convincing the local tax base to support whatever it is being spent on seems expensive also.

                As for “equal rights”, 48+% of Minnesotans weren’t ready for gay marriage yet. The jury is out on how that will play this Fall.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/19/2014 - 04:31 pm.

      The flaw in your analysis

      is you completely mis-characterized Franken’s message. Moderates easily see through an empty suit like McFadden. His “message” is nothing more than tired, antiquated GOP talking points…blah blah, “Obama”, blah blah, “taxes, ” blah blah “job creation” blah, blah “repeal Obama care.” Yawn…wake me when he’s giving his concession speech.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 07/20/2014 - 04:22 pm.

        A Challenge

        I agree that McFadden has an uphill battle.

        Franken and Obama’s consistent willingness to pay for votes with the money taken from the wallets other citizens does appeal to many people. Just like tax cuts appeal to tax payers.

        ACA takes a great deal of money from most tax payers and uses it to subsidize health insurance premiums for people who often vote DFL.

        Wage and benefit increases for mostly DFL voting Public Union members are paid for tax payers.

        Robbinsdale school district finally outsourced the transportation function and it saved us tax payers more than $1 million per year. Now just imagine if this happened in more areas of government. However I am pretty sure Franken would be against it since he might lose votes.

        The question is going to be who gets out to votes. The receivers of the DFL’s generosity or the payers?

  16. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 07/19/2014 - 07:56 am.

    Crotch Watch: Franken opponent?

    If one establishes one’s campaign essentially with a funny below-the-belt-line punch in order to validate one’s credibility as a winky/wonky policy man sans policy positions, what’s the metaphor here?

    And who are the short ones surrounding the cute-as-a-papa scenario? Do they represent our funny-kid congress who Mcfadden hopes to join; a most questionable ‘team’ within the belt line?

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/21/2014 - 01:25 pm.

    Obviously we can see who McFadden’s ad apeals to

    And that’s great news because Franken will win easily by collecting the rest of the votes.

  18. Submitted by Dan Heilman on 07/23/2014 - 07:39 am.

    Ad background music: bought or “borrowed”?

    Seeing that Mike McFadden campaign commercial for the hundredth time this month made me wonder something. You might have recognized the music playing in the background as the old ‘Monday Night Football’ theme.

    It’s actually a song called “Heavy Action,” and it was written in the early ‘70s by Johnny Pearson for the British production music giant KPM (

    It costs a pretty penny to license KPM themes – five figures or more in the case of a song this well-known. And there’s no way the song is in the public domain. This means the cost of using it would make up a prohibitive portion of the ad’s budget.

    So: How does a nascent Senate campaign afford such a luxury?

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