Why That Orwellian Anti-CFPB Ad Worked

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It has been said that if a journalist wants to tell a big story, start by telling a small story. Find an example that can humanize the conflict in a way that helps people understand the larger narrative in context.

This is precisely the thinking behind the ad the American Action Network launched about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and precisely why the article by Rachel Witkowski and Rob Blackwell misses the mark.

The current administration is in the middle of a regulatory bender. They have issued over 500 major regulations – and counting. These regulations are having a profound effect on our economy and are a principal reason why we have experienced a historically bad recovery. How do you explain such a vast array of regulations and explain how they are actually affecting the lives of everyday Americans?

Enter "Denied," our provocative TV ad about the CFPB. CFPB sounds like alphabet soup to most consumers. Yet the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is one of the most powerful and unaccountable government agencies in Washington. This is a fact we believe voters deserve to know.

Over 13.5 million Americans were introduced to the CFPB while watching our ad during the Nov. 10 GOP primary debates. We visualized the autocracy of the agency with stark imagery featuring CFPB Director Richard Cordray and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who first proposed creating the bureau, on red banners overseeing a regulatory factory filled with bureaucrats.

Additionally, we visualized the message that the CFPB's unilateral regulations will ultimately hurt the people they claim to help. The CFPB's activities affecting mortgages, car loans and other personal loans could drive up cost, reducing credit access for millions of Americans.

Those are just a few examples that translate most easily for personal application. But no less dangerous is the CFPB's arbitration rule that could have a chilling effect on the financial services offered to consumers.

Our objective was to force the CFPB into the national spotlight, begin a debate and encourage national leaders to take a stand.

And we've succeeded well beyond our expectations. AAN's CFPB ad has helped spark a debate from the presidential race and Capitol Hill to the press and social media to businesses and citizens across the country.

Warren and Hillary Clinton responded to our ad, vigorously defending their support for the CFPB. And during the debate, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina took on the CFPB, saying its supervision invades the financial privacy of millions of American credit card borrowers.

Regardless of anyone's viewpoint, we started the national conversation we wanted. And over time, I am confident that more Americans will find out the facts about the CFPB and oppose this unaccountable agency.

We started with a small story. But the bigger picture is too important to miss.

Mike Shields is president of the American Action Network, a 501c4 issue advocacy organization.

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