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How a viral Warnock ad used Walker’s own words against him

Side-by-side images of a man with a perplexed expression wearing headphones and of Herschel Walker standing before two microphones.

Screenshot of Georgia resident reacting to clips of Republican Herschel Walker in the latest ad from Sen. Raphael Warnock. (Sen. Warnock campaign/Magnus Pearson Media)

ATLANTA – Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., is out with a viral new ad that allows his opponent, Republican Herschel Walker, to do the talking.

In the roughly two-minute spot, Georgia residents took turns watching clips of the former football star and responded in real time to Walker talking about werewolves killing vampires, amorous bulls and trying to distinguish “good air” and “bad air” as it relates to China.

“It makes me laugh and then it makes me think, we are in trouble,” a young Black man featured in the ad said.

“This video is ridiculous,” said another young white man. “That’s 35 seconds of my life I will never get back.”

In all, eight Georgians of varying ages and cultural backgrounds appeared in the ad, which has been seen nearly 2 million times on Twitter alone.

The ad comes at a time when Warnock, a Baptist preacher, and Walker, a former University of Georgia football hero and Heisman Trophy winner, are embroiled in a bitter runoff race for a U.S. Senate seat after neither candidate surpassed the 50% threshold needed to win in last month’s midterm election.

Images blended to appear that Walker, smiling, is standing behind Warnock, who stares blankly ahead.

Sen. Warnock and Herschel Walker. (Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Anna Rose Layden/Getty Images, Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Just three days into the state’s only in-person early voting week, more than 1 million Georgians have already cast their ballots in the race, according to the secretary of state’s office, and a record 3.9 million ballots were cast in the November election.

With less than a week to go until the Dec. 6 election day, many Georgia voters are burned out from the deluge of campaign ads they’ve been watching for months.

That’s why Adam Magnus, the lead media strategist for the Warnock campaign and mastermind behind the latest ad, felt that the best way to break through was to show just how exasperated Georgians are with the race.

“What the ad captures is what a lot of people have been experiencing on their own separately for the last year and a half,” Magnus told Yahoo News in a phone interview, adding that he wasn’t surprised by any reactions from the participants in the ad. “But it does it in a way that is authentic to the people, because that’s really what they were thinking and saying as they saw [Walker] speak.”

Herschel Walker speaks into two microphones at a podium before a crowd of people.

Herschel Walker speaks at a campaign rally on Tuesday in Greensboro, Ga. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Magnus, a partner at Magnus Pearson Media, has been the chief architect behind all of Warnock’s ads since the Savannah native first announced he was running for Senate in his first go-round in January of 2020. Over the last two years, Magnus has been the brains behind the popular “Alvin the Beagle” ad poking fun at the senator’s love for dogs, the “Warnock Knows” spot showcasing the pastor’s questionable athletic prowess and the “Store” ad about a tense experience Warnock had as a child.

The goal of each successive ad throughout the campaign, Magnus says, was to show the real Warnock and focus on the drastic differences between him and Walker.

“Getting out of the way sometimes is the best way to reach people,” Magnus said. “This was us getting out of the way and letting them have a raw view of who Herschel Walker is.”

The production of the latest ad was purposely bare bones. None of the people featured in it were paid, according to Magnus, and each participant entered a plain conference room with a camera pointing at them and they were asked to react out loud to what they saw. The result, he says, speaks for itself.

“Seeing other people’s reactions in its own way reminds people of their own inner conversations they’ve been having,” Magnus said. “A lot of people in Georgia have been saying the same thing that those eight people said out loud when they see him speak.”

Side-by-side images of a woman wearing headphones with a blank look on her face and of Herschel Walker standing before two microphones.

Screenshot of Georgia resident reacting to clips of Herschel Walker in the latest ad from Warnock. (Sen. Warnock campaign/Magnus Pearson Media)

The Walker campaign did not return requests for comment from Yahoo News.

A final question in the ad appears on screen in the final few seconds in big, brown letters, “Does Herschel Walker really represent you?” Magnus hopes viewers walk away with a clear answer.

“When you talk about, ‘What are the stakes?’” he said. “An approach like this, in a very real way, shows it, and not says it. We got out of the way. Georgians did the talking for us.”


Cover thumbnail: Warnock for Georgia campaign/Magnus Pearson Media