The Kerry/Edwards team just launched an 18-state, $18 million ad blitz to capture the heartland. Their pitch: a stronger America, coupled with athletic images of the two at home, work and war. We'll know if the message worked in November. While we wait, here's how five advertising top guns would win the White House.
Gary Resch, senior copywriter/creative director, Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide (Clients: Diet Coke, Samsung):
They have a functional dynamic that's akin to rap legends Public Enemy. I would flaunt this time-tested dynamic. Kerry's your Chuck D, the solemn, thoughtful intellectual who's not afraid to give us our medicine. Edwards is the giddy Flavor Flav, who can echo Kerry's message with a little sugar, in a more upbeat and consumer-friendly fashion.
My spot would be structurally similar to Edwards' [July 7] speech in Florida. I'd have Edwards jumping around the frame like a wind-up toy echoing the ticket's position, while Kerry stands silently in the background, looking grim and patrician, like a driving-school instructor ready to jump in should things get hairy. With this staging, we communicate the unbridled optimism that the American public likes to vote for. And we assure them there's a realist nearby in case of emergency. If I really want to take the Public Enemy analogy to the hilt, I'd put a giant clock around Edwards' neck.
Ann Hayden, executive creative director, Young & Rubicam New York (AT&T, Computer Associates, MetLife):
This is sort of frivolous, but they're two white guys. They could be brothers. You could dress them up like Bartles and Jaymes [from the award-winning 1980s ad campaign for wine coolers, featuring two down-home, brothers who ended each spot by thanking viewers for their support]. People are trying to humanize them, make them more accessible. This is a funny metaphor to do that. They look like politicians, and probably feel more comfortable in suits than anything else. But if you get them to roll up their sleeves, dress them up and put them on a porch, you could make them more folksy and accessible."
Tom Messner, partner, Euro RSCG New York/founding partner, Messner Vetere Berger Carey (Reagan/Bush '84, MCI):
If I was going to try to do something very effective, I'd try to get people to go see Fahrenheit 9/11. It's probably the greatest commercial that's ever been done. It's better than any commercial you could see on TV. The movie was tremendously effective and has everything a commercial should have: It's funny, it's sad, it's true and untrue.
Lor Gold, chief creative officer, Draft Chicago (US Postal Service, Kellogg's, M&M Mars, Brinks):
I would take black-and-white photos of Kerry/Edwards throughout their lives and keep going in on their eyes. Maybe one of Kerry fighting in Vietnam. Then zoom in on the eyes, dissolve, come back in on the eyes, then on Edwards' eyes. Show a whole breadth of history from 1962 until today. Then end with the two of them looking earnest and out at the camera.
The tagline is "Kerry and Edwards—they never lost sight of America." It's not about superfluous contracts with Enron or Halliburton with them. They're focused, strong-willed individuals. They stayed focused on the things they believed in.
Charlie Hopper, vice president/ creative director, Young & Laramore Indianapolis (Steak 'n' Shake Restaurants, Galyans Sports & Outdoor Adventure):
They should go out with a microphone and do a little jaywalking like [Jay] Leno. Send them out there and let them interview real people. [Let them] ask fair and pointed questions that are a little funny but not in attack mode like Michael Moore. Get them out there in Anytown, USA. Let them make a joke, have a laugh, and look charming and real. For example, I'd have them do a [Vice President Dick] Cheney impression. The press keeps labeling Kerry as patrician, and this would get him off the platform. He's got to look like a real person. That's key.
Next week: Bush-Cheney