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From My Favorite Ad Exec

Thursday, January 22, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The latest from “Bear in the Woods,” my favorite ad exec:

Since you linked to Jude’s “coming out” blog, I’ve been reading more of Big Hollywood, and it’s good to know there are at least a few more accomplished, conservative, creative minds out there who see a lot of the same things I do. Truth is, Hollywood and Madison Ave are just two sides of the same coin — we in advertising are just more overt about using creativity to sell products. Hollywood does the same, really, although it’s intentionally and craftily presented as entertainment for entertainment’s sake. The bottom line: those of us who work in, and understand, the production of popular culture can see all those intangibles the GOP has either ignored, or been completely oblivious to, for a long time. And clearly, those intangibles matter.[# More #]
Two of the better pieces I’ve read on Big Hollywood over the past couple or three days come from Jude, and Andrew Breitbart.
Jude’s piece, On Drinking Through Tuesday, ( ) is a wonderful rant that chastises GOP leadership for simply not getting it. It should be required reading. My favorite line: “On their blackberries, your staff should have the phone numbers of film production people from the land of make-believe, not just AV guys from your local yellow pages.” He’s spot on, and echos what I’ve said to you in emails past. The GOP, by and large, hires communications people and “marketers” from within the political marketing vertical. This is a recipe for bad creative. In the general-market advertising world, there are agencies who specialize in verticals, as well. Most often, you’ll find them in business-to-business/tech advertising, and healthcare advertising. I ask you – when was the last time you saw a truly moving b2b ad, or a commercial for a hospital that leapt to the forefront of popular culture? I’ll go a step further: when was the last time you saw a healthcare ad that didn’t look exactly like every other healthcare ad you’ve ever seen? Working completely in a vertical — any vertical — takes those who are making the communication too close to the product. When that happens, they create things that talk only about the product, in the language of the product. They forget the audience completely. It happens in b2b, it happens in healthcare, and it happens to the GOP. Preaching to the choir.
Andrew’s piece, “No Magic Internet Button for GOP,” on both Big Hollywood and the Washington Times ( completely underscores the points I’ve been attempting to make in my letters to you. The technology isn’t what created the tsunami. The tsunami was created by a total understanding of popular culture and how to use emotional triggers to create and move it. One of many excellent quotes: “The Democratic Party resonates on the Internet because it resonates in pop culture. The Democratic Party resonates in pop culture because it has been committed to dominating it for over a generation.Democrats are celebrities, rock stars, magazine covers and stadium concerts. Republicans are a small list of famous people who have to make public excuses for their affiliation. “
What I find inspiring about both of these pieces is their shared, “Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore,” attitude. Exactly the mindset that prompted me to write my first note to you. What I find potentially disheartening, though, is the knowledge that, until the GOP recognizes the need for creative, pop-culture-aware talent, the available pool of that talent will go untapped. For every Jude, who can come out of the closet politically and, because he is an independent entity, choose to absorb the impact that decision might have on his career, there’s at least one or more of me. More than willing to use my experience to make a difference, but not willing to trade what little economic security my creative profession provides for my family. Good creative, pop-culture-shifting thinking, and Hollywood or Madison Avenue quality production don’t come cheap. To use Jude’s comparison, we’re not your local AV guys. The bottom line: there’s not a big market for conservative creatives until the GOP understands what truly talented and accomplished creatives can bring to the table. Because of that, and regrettably, many of us will remain at the table that feeds us, until they do.
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