Jeff Brown Has Ticked Off Michelle Obama and Black Philadelphia in Race for Mayor
It’s too good to be true – until it just isn’t.
Philadelphia grocery magnate turns Democrat Mayor candidate Jeff Brown Voters stunned in December when he released a very noisy advertising campaign had former first lady Michelle Obama praise him.
Brown is one of the few white candidates entering the crowded race of 11 Democratic mayoral candidates, so attracting Black votes is crucial. For years, Brown has been known for placing his ShopRite groceries in predominantly Black neighborhoods that are otherwise food deserts. At first, it seemed like he was making waves with the first TV campaign ad of the election cycle showcasing such good deeds. Now it seemed to be backfired right in front of his eyes.
“I think Jeff Brown got it right when he said we’re not going to stay out,” Mrs. Obama was filmed saying in the ad. “We will be true to our community.”
The 30-second ad, which runs on diverse cable networks (such as BET and VH1) across Philly, also features a photo of Brown with former President Barack Obama as it brags about how the grocer is rich have been solving food shortages in his city. On the surface, one might assume that given the overwhelming presence of the Obamas in the ad, both sides must have agreed on some aspects of it. However, The Daily Beast was able to reveal that was not the case and that Mrs. Obama’s side was not happy with the ad and contacted Brown’s campaign directly.
A spokesperson for Brown said: “They didn’t ask us to take the ad down, but that could be implied. “We were planning on not running ads anymore because it was at the end of its cycle and we had new campaign ads to run.”
The Brown campaign admitted to The Daily Beast that it did not reach out to the Obamas before the ad was launched.
A spokesman for Jeff Brown’s campaign told The Daily Beast: “Jeff Brown’s ad featuring former First Lady Michelle Obama includes content that is publicly available and in the public domain. “It includes comments former First Lady Obama made about Jeff Brown’s work in developing solutions to the national food desert crisis. The ad makers have not been contacted because the comments are in the public domain.
A spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama told The Daily Beast she did not officially endorse Brown as mayor.
“Mrs. The spokesperson wrote in an email.
According to a Brown campaign spokesperson, the ad hasn’t run since MLK weekend as it is “completed its cycle”. However, perhaps by some coincidence, that’s also when Mrs. Obama’s side contacted and “implied” that they did not want the ad to continue running.
Michelle Obama’s ad wasn’t the only mistake Brown made in his efforts to reach Black voters in Philadelphia.
A recent social media campaign video now deleted from Brown’s official Instagram page features a picture of the ShopRite store owner being praised by Black residents—even comparing him to God and the “Big Ghost.”
“In our community we have people called grandma. We call them ‘Big Ma’ where they can give you a hug or offer you a meal,” said young Black Philly social media influencer, who goes by the name “Philly’s motivation,” in the clip. “And that’s the kind of energy Mr. Brown radiates.”
“The thing about God is, He will always support you no matter what, and so will Mr. Brown,” the same man later said, this time with Brown on a street corner with a group of black Filipinos. “And I thank you for being a likeable image.”
The reaction on social media to this controversial 1-minute video has been mixed:
What’s perhaps scarier is that the young Black male star in the video is actually not just a random fan of Brown — but a former employee.
“The man (Dana) was not compensated and was a former ShopRite employee (2 years ago),” a spokesperson for Brown’s campaign said. “No individual participating in or appearing in our campaign’s social media posts has been compensated. They are all volunteers to give their candid comments.”
Only time will tell whether Brown’s deafening antics will cost him dearly or just pass. Let’s hope such a campaign doesn’t offend more voters heading towards Black History Month.