Herman Cain Campaign Suddenly Raking It In... Because of Odd New Ad?

Erika Johnsen

10/29/2011 10:34:00 AM - Erika Johnsen

Earlier this week, the Herman Cain team posted a somewhat unusual web advertisement of which the final few moments were, for me anyway, a bit of a non sequitur.

Whatever the mildly unconventional thinking was behind this ad, the strategy is apparently an effective one. From the WSJ:

Mr. Cain’s camp, as of the latest tally Friday morning, says the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO has pulled in nearly $5 million in donations – earlier reported as $3 million — since the start of October, with the cash surging even faster since his aides earlier this week posted a quirky web video ad that featured his campaign manager, Mark Block, puffing on a cigarette.

“Our donations online have shot up a lot since that ad,” says Mr. Block, who claims the weird, 56-second spot has now entered the eyeballs of at least four million people on YouTube, CNN, Fox News and other cable stations that have aired it repeatedly since Monday.

“Yes, the smoking part of that ad was controversial—and I don’t in any way condone smoking—but the message that Herman Cain is a different kind of presidential candidate is certainly resonating across the country,” said Mr. Block. He insists that the sheer oddity of the ad has helped burnish Mr. Cain’s image, contrary to the reaction of most other Republican campaign operatives.

Mr. Block says the bulk of the campaign’s donations have come in online, averaging around $60 a pop. “The money we are getting is wildly beyond our expectations,” he said

The Huntsman campaign was quick to jump on board and create a parody of the "smoking ad," but the 'I'm-joking-but-really-I'm-not' vibe is pretty palpable. As likable as his daughters are, I don't think this will give Huntsman quite the same boost as Herman Cain's ad.