We watched Rick Caruso’s campaign ads so you don’t have to

Those TV commercials Rick Caruso-for-mayor – oy. I live in Orange County, and even I can’t escape them.

They constantly appear on KCAL-TV Channel 9 during the evening news. They appear during LA Dodgers games on cable. They fill my YouTube feed while I stream videos of goth-soul crooner The Weeknd. Why, a flash just as I write this during KNBC-TV Channel 4’s 11pm newscast, when all I wanted to see was the weather.

If I can’t avoid the Caruso commercials, I can only imagine what all of you Angelenos must be going through. Are those locations already permanently etched on your retinas, the way old TVs used to show ghost images when you left them on too long?

His campaign has spent more than $11 million on airtime and TV ad strategists as of April 23, according to financial disclosures — nearly 48% of the record $23 million Caruso has already spent on an election that doesn’t has not even reached the month of June. 7 primaries. Almost all the money comes from his own pocket.

I looked at all 23 Caruso TV and web promotions registered with the LA City Ethics Commission, so you don’t have to. What emerges is a rich man trying out different personas to see which stick and which are as out of place as Joe Buscaino’s campaign.

I identified six different Ricks, each more carefully crafted than the other.

Casual Rick this is how Caruso presents himself in two courts Facebook Videos uploaded the week he announced his candidacy in mid-February. They capture him sitting in a chair in Echo Park, tilted so that the Los Angeles city skyline looms over his shoulder at sunset.

“Hi, Rick Caruso here,” the Brentwood billionaire said happily, wearing the same slightly zipped light blue sweater each time to show how normal he was. The gimmick doesn’t work – Caruso’s glowing eyes betray a script, and it comes across as more wooden than the Santa Monica Pier.

Caruso then drops the regular guy shtick for a better act: Hopeful Rick.

Over the course of four commercials, he features iconic images of Southern California — palm trees, the Hollywood sign, the LA skyline (again), the beach — and even the Statue of Liberty to play a part. dream that he says is endangered and that only he can save. All of the ads use the word “love” and make extensive use of Caruso’s wide-toothed smile and boomer good looks. “My only special interests are you, Angelenos,” he declares, in a variant of Hopeful Rick – Cheesy Rick.

The contestant shares the difference between Hopeful Rick and Casual Rick with his cool rick series.

These three ads show that Caruso is trying hard to show that he is more than one of the richest people in Los Angeles, a mega-developer trying to buy his way into City Hall. He can also hit it with the commoners!

An advertisement touts its nonna advice to “always give back” by airing shots of him laughing alongside children of color. Another features a recipient of her scholarships saying Caruso ‘helped raise’ all the working-class kids like her who came through Operation Progress, the South LA nonprofit of which Caruso was a member. founder of the board of directors.

And if you still don’t think Caruso is down, another ad written with Latin jazz ends with Watts community activist Marc Maye declaring, “You’ve got my stamp, bro” – probably the only time you hear someone greet Caruso loving that.

If these Carusos are too light for you in these serious times, there is Serious Rick, who presses her smile to a tight-lipped face to convey gravity.

We’re not talking about dreams. Instead, we see homeless encampment after homeless encampment, chilling crime headlines from that diary, shadowy criminals – and Caruso as the only hope to clean up the mess. He dons a suit and tie to announce his support for the recall effort against LA County Dist. Atti. George Gascon.

And just in case you don’t realize Caruso will be tougher on crime than anyone else, former Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton makes an appearance to congratulate him.

Bratton didn’t do it for free, however. Campaign finance records show he secured a $4,397 Delta ticket and a $2,796 stay at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles. Can we suggest a Spirit Airlines flight with a room at the Holiday Inn Express in Hawthorne next time?

At least Caruso knows that LA is a city of immigrants – he mentions his Italian roots several times. That’s one of the reasons he channels korean rickspending nearly $170,000 on three ads that aired on Korean-language channels.

The guy doesn’t really speak Korean. Instead, as translated by my colleague Jeong Park, the voice actors repeat in an even-handed, almost line-by-line tone his English-language commercials dealing with crime, homelessness, and his general composure. Only the first announcement offers an explicit opening to Korean voters. While the English and Spanish versions mention a crackdown on juvenile delinquency, the Korean version replaces that line with a promise that Caruso will “protect our communities from hate crimes” – a smart move that shows he’s hiring the right people. consultants.

Caruso’s most interesting character is Mexican Rick, which he can easily pass off, given his Hispanic-sounding last name and his skin that’s darker than mine. He spent $884,000 on five Spanish ads, with mixed results. Most of them use a weird pocho neologism, with voiceover actors referring to Los Angeles as “LA,” even though the acronym sounds clunky in Spanish and isn’t really used by Latino immigrants.

He is much savvier in a homelessness commercial which is word for word the same as his English counterpart, except for the opening graphics, where “Rick Caruso Homelessness Plan” becomes “El Plan de Caruso” .

This linguistic sleight of hand draws on a long history of similarly worded revolutionary promises in Mexican history, such as El Plan de Ayala and El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán by Emiliano Zapata, one of the founding documents of the Chicano MEChA student group. Here is Rick inadvertently awakened.

If this call to Latinity still not working, Caruso pulls out the big gun for his Spanish crime ad: a guy ringing the bell only like Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrín.

It’s not Jarrín, but let me tell you: if I could almost be fooled, my cousins ​​and uncles don’t stand a chance. Well done, Rick – and well paid. Or should I call you… El ATM Muy Grande Rick?