Monday, January 16, 2012

The loathsome God-awful loathsomeness that is political advertising

At the risk of bringing out the right-wing nutjobs, I mean enthusiasts, that for some reason read this blog, I have a story to tell. I worked for a month or two on Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008, around the time of the Iowa caucuses. I wrote a bunch of TV scripts as well as about 200 slogans for the campaign, including 'Yes We Can' and 'A Politician We Can Believe In' (which the campaign appropriated to 'Change We Can Believe In.')

So I wrote all this stuff, and Obama won Iowa, but then a funny thing happened. The campaign basically said 'thanks, your work is done here.' It turns out when his campaign blew up, paradoxically the people running it felt they had to close ranks with who was doing their ads, which at the time were a handful of Chicago advertising-agency creatives like me, and replace them with a hack Washington agency that specialized in political work.

But I really enjoyed it, and I'm thinking when I get kicked out of the agency world, I'll open a political ad agency. If I did, I'd make ads like this. But oh, the clients.

Thanks to Rick Hamann for the tip.


Patrick Scullin said...

Let me lob in a comment quickly before the right wingers pile in praising Sarah Palin or bashing Obama for every ill ever befallen on Earth.

I did not know that you worked on the Obama campaign. Congratulations, that sounds cool (until the real pols get involved).

These days, there is high art to political mudslinging. It's almost become a spoof on itself. The more outlandish, the better. Like comedy writing, really. As the Nazis used to proclaim, if you're going to lie, lie BIG.

Hey, I got the first mention of "Nazi" in this comment stream! What do I win?

No matter what, Gary, I'm sure you'd be a great political adman like you're a terrific everything-else-adman.

But I suggest you write a novel instead. It has more dignity and will probably be better for your sanity.

Ron Reason said...

It takes a good person to stay above the fray of bitterness - kudos, Gary. Stay strong.

Seems to me topics like these, and of course the dubious effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising, should be explored during a tenured position at IU-Bloomington's Ernie Pyle Hall School of Journalism!

G.D. said...

Ron, welcome to the blog! You're right, furrowed-brow young journalists of any stripe would be highly entertained by my trenchant commentary I'm sure.

Pat: wise comments as always. I'll get on that novel.

Guido said...

Do 1 billion Hail Mary's and never ever attempt to sell a product with no positive qualities and you will be forgiven.

Leo Burnettsky said...

"The Giants are on the way to the Super Bowl"

Joe Biden, to a San Francisco audience

(Hat tip, Gary. Joe could use your marketing and communications savvy)

G.D. said...


Now THAT would be a good attack ad to run in Cali! Mitt's people should take note.