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Spinning zombies enliven San Diego mayor's race

There may be no more derivative industry than Hollywood -- see "Rocky" movies 1 through 6 or any of hundreds, if not thousands, of formulaic bromance/road trip/gross out/superhero/improbable romance/triumphant underdog movies all built on a single, once-successful theme.

A close second in the been-there, seen-that category has to be the political advertising business, where it is the rare non-cookie-cutter spot that manages to cut through the clutter. Not that attention always translates to success; the infamous "Demon Sheep" ad produced for U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in California in 2010 drew hundreds of thousands of viewers and still has people scratching their heads and debating the merits.

The one thing it didn't do was help Fiorina defeat incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. (Though, in fairness, it should be noted the ad was aimed at Fiorina's GOP primary rival, Tom Campbell, and she did manage to best him for the Republican nomination before losing badly in the fall.) Still, is it the rare political spot that is laugh-out-loud funny and, better, emulates Hollywood's zombie fixation, just as the genre appears about ready to jump the, uh, dead shark.

The spot is aimed at San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher by a group calling itself Zombies for Responsible Government. The man behind the ad is Wayne Johnson, a longtime conservative activist, who balked at the description "low-budget."

"I don't want to say anything that will hurt me with my next client," Johnson said with a laugh before allowing as how the ad, filmed in a park outside Sacramento, "was a not a terribly expensive spot." (The biggest costs were doubtless for makeup and shredded wardrobe.) The 45-second spot features zombies in pirouette -- how often do those words show up describing a political ad? -- and accuses Fletcher of serial flip-flops.

Fletcher, who is the front-runner in the mayoral contest, has been targeted by opponents for his serial identities as a Republican, independent and, now, Democrat, though the attacks seem to have gained little traction. If anything, polls suggest, Fletcher's polyglot background may be helping him in the campaign.

The vote to replace former Democratic Mayor Bob Filner, who resigned in a sexual harassment scandal, is Nov. 19. If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff will be held on a date still to be determined.

Here's the spot, which began running on-line Monday.

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