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From Bear In The Woods

Saturday, March 7, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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The latest from our favorite, anonymous advertising exec:

Hugh:

I’m enjoying the letters I’m getting from readers. I’m grateful to
have so much support. I’ll apologize in advance if I’m out of
communication for the next several weeks — my agency has several large projects I must attend to, and I plan to be at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival for at least a couple of days. Still, I do like hearing others’ take on my submissions. My email is: bearinthewoods84@gmail.com — I promise to return messages as quickly as I can.

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of weeks about the
communications strategies and tactics that are currently being
employed in favor of White House and Congressional initiatives, and against all who oppose them. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how discordant the GOP’s response has been. There are bright spots, to be sure. A groundswell of grassroots activism in the form of Tea Parties. The Speech. And growing discussions I’m hearing, especially amongst young voters and moderates who are realizing they’re getting a bit more than they bargained for. The problem I’m having is that I’m not hearing a universal emotional truth that resonates across broad swaths of voters. I’m hearing wonderfully articulated arguments, and some good old-fashioned common sense. I’m just not hearing it boiled down into something that’s easily embraced. But the more I think, the more I think a potential unifying mantra is staring us in the face. At the risk of being presumptuous, I have a suggestion:[# More #]

The two most powerful words in advertising have always been: “Free” and “Truth.”

The problem is, once they get turned into marketing language, they sometimes develop twisted meanings. But, if, in fact, marketers can use the words legitimately, they absolutely should employ them whenever possible. It’s important to understand that many times, though, the two words conflict. Yes, something might be “Free,” but the “Truth” is, in the end, you still have to pay.

It’s clear the Democrats have embraced the concept of “Free.” Just look at all the stuff they’re “giving” away. I’m reminded of a
discussion I had a few years ago with a Canadian friend of mine — and no, it wasn’t about health care — but it was about some other
government program from which he believed he was getting free
services. “The government’s going to pay for it!” He was ecstatic. Then I asked him his tax rate. Although he made less than half of what I made at the time, his rate was 15 points higher. A lightbulb went off when he realized that yes, the government was paying for his service — with his money. This is the twisted concept of “Free” the American people are being sold by congress and the president. But “Free” is seductive. And emotional. And people are almost universally willing to buy it. The Democrats are, quite literally, banking on it.

But, then, there’s the Truth. One of the most successful public
service campaigns in recent memory has been “The Truth” campaign against smoking. Just the facts. Just the truth. Presented in a raw, yet emotionally arresting way.

When, in times past, Republicans have presented the Truth in an
emotionally arresting, and creatively competent way (The Bear in the Woods, The Contract With America) we’ve succeeded. I’ll even throw in the Swift Boat spots for good measure here, just to make a point. When we’ve failed, we’ve done one of two things: (A) We’ve failed to live the Truth, for instance, by becoming big spenders while telling the country we’re not, or by shutting down communication altogether, thus obscuring the Truth; or (B) we’ve failed to articulate the Truth in a way that is concise and emotionally appealing. Which is why I frequently liken GOP responses to Liberal banner waving as the communications equivalent of a white paper.

The Truth is powerful on its own. It can be spoken in short sentences.

The Truth is simple. The Truth is pure. The Truth trumps opinion.
And although “Free” is frequently considered the more powerful
marketing word, the truth is, the Truth wins head to head.
Irrefutable Truth eventually ends every argument. Emotional Truth
eventually wins every heart and mind. There is, right this very
moment, a massive opportunity for the Right to not only embrace, but to — in a marketing sense — “own” the concept of, and the very word: Truth.

The Democrats have gone too far down the road, now, of a faux concept of “Free,” and made too many missteps along that road, to be able to own them both. It’s ours for the taking, and the American people are showing every sign of hunger for exactly that: The Truth.

To pull it off, though, we must live as we speak. We can’t call out
their pork, and ignore or brush off ours. We can’t talk around our
own mistakes — we have to own up. Living up to the Truth is
difficult, in the best of times. But even in times like these, it’s
never impossible. I agree with Ann Coulter’s take in Guilty that the Truth infuriates both Democrats and the mainstream media. Because both have such trouble owning up to it. The time is now. Not only do we have the opportunity to be the voice of Truth, I’ll submit that we have the duty. Just imagine how, plainly stated, Truth stands up to what we now know are the Democrats’ versions of the following: Free, Change, Hope, Bipartisanship, Fairness, Transparency….I could go on, but I don’t see the need.

The truth is, our mantra is staring us in the face. We need to live
the concept, so the word has power. But we need to use the word. Literally, use it, the way the Democrats used the word: “Change.”
With purpose and conviction. Over and over. We have the
opportunity to give America what it desperately needs and wants the most: The Truth. And the best part is, the Truth is on our side.

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