Nick Searcy on Herman Cain Ad: A Satire on Celebrity Endorsements

Searcy-300x143Nick Searcy of “Justified” stars in the Herman Cain web video “He Carried Yellow Flowers,” which has posted more than 367,000 views. Last week, before the campaign grappled with revelations that Cain had been accused of sexual harassment, it was getting traction for its offbeat and even bizarre political viral videos.

In an interview, Searcy said that on intent of the video — in which he plays a cowboy who is provoked into a fight over the manlihood of carrying yellow flowers — was to create “something funny and parody the entire idea of celebrity endorsements.” Midway through the video, a director yells “Cut!,” Searcy walks off set and stares into the camera and announces himself as “international film and television star” Nick Searcy. Then he makes the pitch for Cain, calling him a “real leader.” “Take a real look at Herman Cain. I think you will like what you see,” Searcy says.

The video garnered the lion’s share of attention last week, but in truth it has been posted online since August.

Searcy says that he and a friend produced the video on their own in a five hour production session in July. After about six weeks of editing, they sent it to the campaign, which put it on YouTube and attached an image of Cain and its logo to the end of the spot.

It seems to have caught the eye of the media after the Cain campaign introduced a different video that featured chief of staff Mark Block staring at the camera, puffing on a cigarette. Searcy says that probably got journalists to take a look at other videos on the campaign’s site.

“We wanted to make something fun, that was not even for people who were that political, that would get Herman Cain’s name tossed about,” says Searcy, who added that Cain was way behind in the polls back then. “There are not many political ads with this many jokes in them.”

Offbeat can be effective (perhaps devastating if it is unintentional). In the last cycle, Chuck Norris taped a series of spots with Mike Huckabee that helped the candidate get attention in Iowa, a state he eventually won. Norris ended up hitting the trail with Huckabee, and even giving speeches as a campaign surrogate.

He’s met Cain twice, and the candidate told him that when he saw the video he “laughed really hard and thought it was funny.” Shortly after the video was posted to YouTube, the candidate promoted it in a Tweet. Searcy said he likes Cain because “he believes in the same things that I do,” like limited government, and that he has been a businessman “who has succeeded in so many areas of life.”

“He is a man who I respect who also has a great sense of humor,” he says.

He believes that the media onslaught over allegations that Cain made inappropriate sexual gestures to female associates will subside.

“I think it is sad, but it could be expected,” Searcy says. “A black man who is conservative can be a very big target on the left.”

Searcy has no plans to make another video, noting that “if I made another one, would I really be making it for Herman Cain or would I be making it for Nick Searcy.”

“I think my work here is done,” he said.

The attention the spot gave him, he insists, was unexpected.

“We wanted to do something that was a bit entertaining, and we had some fun doing it. We didn’t think it would be all this,” he says. “I have been in the business for 20 years, and this may be the most famous I have ever been.”

 

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