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Even this is better…

How Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lost to the man-thing we now have in office is a case study on screwing up. The reasons vary depending on whom you ask and how honest they wish to be. Regardless, the DNC must get their marketing right the next time. And at the tip of that spear will be a bold tagline. Like it or not, “Make America Great Again” resonated with a lot of people. The Dems need something simple and catchy that captures what they stand for. With so much access to creative talent predisposed to your party’s positions, this should be an easy fix.

Early returns suggest otherwise. Way otherwise. Take a gander at the DNC’s new slogan:

A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages.

While some joked it sounds just like Papa John’s tagline, Better Ingredients, Better Pizza I’m afraid that’s the least of this slogan’s problems. At best, it reads like a line from a trade ad, a dismal piece of copy in a paragraph no one will ever read. At worst, bullet points from a strategy statement.

How can the Democrats be so tone deaf? Especially given their failure in November for essentially the same thing. Did Nancy Pelosi write this? “Better wages.” Who even uses the word wages anymore? No one under eighty, that’s who. The word is an artifact from New Deal era politics. Speaking of deals, it that the best way Democrats can assert their new platform –a better deal? Yes, we have a joker in the office but you’re not going to beat him or anyone else with a pair of 2’s.

Here’s what probably happened. They started with a valid insight: that Dems need to better reach out to the working class. Then too many people got in a room and processed too much data – a fatal flaw, I might add, of the Democrats themselves. A committee wrote this line and we can tell. Obama won two terms with “Hope & Change” not “Deals & Wages.” We can only “hope” the DNC “changes” this inept tagline or we’re all singing Hail to the Chief for President Pence.

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The slogan generator, a silly App created by bored creatives, could do better. Or better yet, give me a call. I’ll write you a theme line with Curious Strength.

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Falling on deaf ears?

Like Hollywood and all its stars, the vast majority of Adland despised the idea of a Donald Trump presidency. Which is why for many months so many of us rallied for a different outcome. The best and brightest from our tribe, hired by the DNC, or of their own volition, created films and microsites and social programs in a righteous effort to see the one time First Lady become the first lady President of theses United States and, with perhaps even more ardor, to make certain one very strange and polarizing man didn’t. Emulating the luminaries in La La Land we had our Goodby and Droga and all their get doing everything imaginable so that America voted one way and not another.

Funny or Die presented an entire movie mocking Donald Trump. Baldwin killed with his impersonation of DT on SNL. Poignant commercials told us “our children are watching” as clips of The Donald ran before their innocent eyes. The Tonite Show. The Daily Show. All the shows – ranted and raved. We made memes and anthems. Jay Z and Beyonce’ stood by Mrs. Clinton swearing a blue streak for blue states. The sitting POTUS boldly stated that Donald Trump was “not fit for the office” and we made endless propaganda to support that claim. Oh, those ripping hashtags. So many followers. So many Likes. So many shares.

And yet.

All the Kings horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Hillary Clinton back together again. Donald Trump won. And he did it with a clown car for support and a fraction of the money.

In Washington the autopsies are well under way. Blaming the FBI. Blaming racist America. Blaming men. And, with eyes to the floor, blaming their candidate as well as themselves. How could we let this happen? They rightfully ask. Were we so wrong? That wildfire will rage for months to come.

And so I must ask the same questions of our industry. Was our strategy and creative so wrong? How did we bungle a pitch we thought so certain we’d won?

I did not create any content for this election but I am available to do so for you: https://steffanwork.wordpress.com/


More of the same…

A bunch of new ads began running yesterday against Donald Trump for President. Like earlier ads they focus entirely on Trump’s infamously nasty comments directed toward women over the years. One in particular stands out because it puts these misogynistic sound bites into the mouths of regular women. I say “stands out” because in a normal universe it would be an atomic bomb for Trump’s candidacy.

But this is not a normal universe. And like all the other ads taking Donald “at his word” it will do nothing to change the course of this election. In the end, Donald may not win but it won’t be because of these ads.

Here’s why. The awful things Donald Trump says about women, minorities and ideas and people in general are what made him so popular in the first place. Why the Dem’s keep thinking he’s his own worst enemy is a fatal flaw in their strategy. He is the GOP’s presumptive nominee (like it or not) precisely because he talks smack. People, lots of people, find his candor, albeit buffoonish, to be highly refreshing and a change of pace from, well, anything they’ve seen or heard before from a politician.

it’s working.

Frankly, by dramatizing his words in ever more creative executions Trump’s rivals are only strengthening his position. Why they don’t see it this way defies logic and, moreover, will hurt the Democratic bid, maybe even mortally.

If I were proposing an ad campaign to thwart Donald Trump, I would do ads that point out his utter cluelessness in terms of policy. I would not attack the inherent racism of his “building a wall against Mexico” I would state he has absolutely no way to actually do it, let alone “get Mexico to pay for it.” The Mexican President has already said that his country has absolutely no intention to pay for anything of the kind. And he won’t. Period. End of story. Therefore, I would challenge Mr. Trump –in ads, in debates, everywhere- on just how in hell he intends to do it. He can’t and deep down we know he can’t. But until that truth is brought to light, and so many other truths, his fan base will continue to grow.

But the Democrats and their Super Pacs keeping wasting time on the smokescreen that is Donald Trump’s shocking statements. In a weird yet undeniable way, it makes the Dems seem out of touch with reality, which only helps the Trump machine get stronger. Trump has a foul mouth. We know that. Go after his brain. Do you want me to write the ads for you?

Donald-Trump-Donkey-Hotey

For all his bluster, bombast and buffoonery Donald Trump is currently leading the pack of candidates for the Republican nomination to President of the United States. Whether Trump goes down in history as a freakish sideshow or actually becomes the GOP’s chosen candidate only time will tell.

Rather than get into his competency to rule (I bet he’d like that phrase), let’s discuss something that not only differentiates Trump from the rest of the field but also from every person who’s ever run for President. What I’m talking about is the free advertising his numerous and conspicuous properties afford him, especially in New York and Chicago.

The Trump Tower(s) are brash as the man himself. The ostentatious letters of his name adorn both buildings and are seen by millions. And lets not forget his TV show, The Apprentice, which has gone on for over a decade. It goes without saying that the slavish 24/7 “news” coverage of this guy overpowers whatever ad dollars the competition has.

This means, unlike any candidate I’m aware of, Donald Trump has some incredibly valuable media behind him. He needn’t ever run an ad for himself (though I’m sure he will and I can’t wait!) and he’d still have more exposure than any other candidate.

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Edifice as billboard…

Wishful thinkers might argue his garishly named buildings will only hurt the man, demonstrating his pretentiousness and vulgarity. Yet consider Trump’s biggest argument on behalf of himself: that he’s a billionaire and won’t be swayed by other people’s money. Like it or not, this resonates with a lot of people. The buildings reinforce Trump’s self-made image, making the signs highly persuasive.

Ironically, Chicago and New York City are huge Democratic strongholds. How infuriating it must be for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to see Trump’s name towering over his city. As it is, the Mayor has already publicly denounced Trump’s ‘ugly’ sign, calling for its removal.

Yet, it remains. As does the candidate.

Author’s note: I first wrote a version of this post last summer, when I’d hoped Trump’s campaign would implode by his own hubris. Alas, that has not happened.

 

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Trumping Chicago…

For all his bluster, bombast and buffoonery Donald Trump is currently leading a massive pack of candidates for the Republican nomination to President of the United States. Whether Trump goes down in history as a freakish sideshow or actually becomes the GOP’s chosen candidate only time will tell.

Rather than get into his competency to rule (I bet he’d like that phrase), let’s discuss something that not only differentiates Trump from the rest of the field but also from every person who’s ever run for President. What I’m talking about is the free advertising his numerous and conspicuous properties afford him, especially in New York and Chicago.

The Trump Tower(s) are brash as the man himself. The ostentatious letters of his name adorn both buildings and are seen by millions. And lets not forget his TV show, The Apprentice, which has gone on for over a decade.

This means, unlike any candidate I’m aware of, Donald Trump has some incredibly valuable media behind him. He needn’t ever run an ad for himself (though I’m sure he will) and he’d still have more exposure than any other candidate.

Wishful thinkers might argue his garishly named buildings will only hurt the man, demonstrating his pretentiousness and vulgarity. Yet consider Trump’s biggest argument on behalf of himself: that he’s a billionaire and won’t be swayed by other people’s money. Like it or not, this resonates with a lot of people. The buildings reinforce Trump’s self-made image, making the signs highly persuasive.

Ironically, Chicago and New York City are huge Democratic strongholds. How infuriating it must be for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to see Trump’s name towering over his city. As it is, the Mayor has already publicly denounced Trump’s ‘ugly’ sign, calling for its removal.

Yet, it remains. As does the candidate.