Living in the Inner Sunset, and for some reason not on any mailing lists, I’ve missed out on most of the “fun” that is Political Dead Tree Mail this season. In particular, I’m missing out on the flurry of eastside mailers for the Democratic Central Committee, which include many current Supervisors as candidates.
The Bay Guardian’s blog reports that apparently the so-called “Change” Slate of candidates is sending out a slate card mailer with the Bay Guardian’s logo on it, implying an endorsement of Sen. Carole Migden (the SFBG in fact, endorsed Mark Leno.) There is a more detailed photo of the mailer in question over at the Wall discussion board as well.
I took a look at the pictures myself, and the “too-clever-by-half” design makes it rather easy for voters to be misled that it’s a Guardian slate card. Yes, it does say “all change initiatives and DCCC candidates endorsed by” above a logo that looks almost exactly like the Bay Guardian’s. At the same time, however, they use the logo as the return address as well.
Yes, there is a disclaimer, but to the casual eye scanning a pile of crappy junk mail, it seems to give the Guardian stamp of approval to all candidates. The fact that people are complaining about it to the Guardian indicates that whatever the alleged “intent,” if the end result is the voter is feeling misled or confused, the piece fails. Not being a mind reader, I don’t know if this was intentional or just plain dumb, but I wonder what progressives would say if the roles and candidates were reversed. I seriously doubt they’d be giving the Other Side the wink and a nod.
More interesting, though is how Supervisor Daly has taken a “do it my way or go F**K yourself” attitude, saving his best vitriol for people who’ve been on his side in the past. He has issued two heavy handed progressive fatwas on SF Labor Council director Tim Paulson – someone whom I’ve worked with in the past and always found to be an honorable, decent guy – and who, with the SFLC, did a lot to support Supervisor Daly in the past.
It’s that time of year again, when people decimate entire forests so that they may flood your mailbox with endless amounts of political mail. This June we’ve got all sorts of mayhem on the ballot, what with the Nation/Leno/Migden rage-a-thon in full swing, and an assortment of those ballot measures folks just love to put on the ballot, and assorted other electoral detritus and term-limited open primaries that makes San Francisco (and Bay Area) politics so much fun.
As always I don’t always get the latest and greatest political mail, or at the very least tend to only get certain pieces targeted to westside Democratic voters. So, if you get some particularly egregious piece of political mail, or if you wanna show off your mad mail skillz, or if you really would like to help me lead the charge in debunking politicos and their spin, feel free to send me either a) a pdf or JPEG of said mail or b) email me and let me know what you have and we’ll make arrangements to either have you mail it in or I’ll pick it up.
Most mainstream media outlets can debunk tv commercials rather easily, since they either end up on YouTube, the candidates’ websites, or can record them off of TV.
Mail, however, does not usually get noticed as easily, and passes “under the radar” and into the voters’ mailboxes. By publicizing what campaigns are doing, and discussing the tactics used to convince you, the voter, of what to do, we can all get a better understanding of what’s being said out there.
Check out our 2006 archive and our 2007 archive, and let the fun begin!
PS: For more information on how direct mail is created, check out this clip of my good friend (and super smart consultant) Jim Spencer, who appeared on the Daily Show a while back.
PS2: If you’re a support of Speaker Pelosi and like Our Fair City, I’ve been working on a new blog that’s in the embryonic stages in support of Our Speaker and City. I’m sick of people bashing our City like it’s some hippie dippie Disneyland, and bashing Nancy Pelosi. If you have suggestions or would like to help, please feel free to drop me a line.
Posted in Campaign Tactics & Analysis, Debunking Politicos Pundits + Spin, Political Direct Mail Archive - 2008
Tagged california, campaigns, consultants, democrats, directmail, disinforehab, fun, fundraising, jimspencer, politics, sanfrancisco, spin
Wow. That was fast. The jury in the ongoing litigation between the Bay Guardian and Village Voice Media came to a rather sudden end as a jury awarded the Guardian $15 million and sided with its claim that its competitor, SF Weekly, was selling ads below cost in an attempt to put the paper out of business.
There has been an endless amount of spin from each side at their respective “blogs,” and the personalized vitriol between the Guardian’s management and the VVM management has been a bit over the top. More importantly, I, as the reader of local media, have not had an objective voice report on this trial, so it’s really hard to know who was telling the truth, and who was lying.
Re-reading some of the “blog” postings by Tim Redmond and Andy Van De Voorde, it was hard to believe each “reporter” was even talking about the same trial – it was spin spin spin. This is the mainstream journalism I’m supposed to fear the demise of, thanks to Evil Blogs and The Internet? Hmm.
Now, while they’re popping champagne corks over on Portero Hill, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that VVM will appeal said verdict. But let’s pretend for a moment that said appeal fails and VVM writes the BG that oversized Publisher’s Clearing House check. Here are some (real) suggestions on what to do with the money:
Although I work on primarily political campaigns, I try to read as much as I can about “real” advertising, since the political consulting industry can sometimes get a bit static. We tend to use the same ideas over and over because they usually work – and no one wants to go out on a limb (especially clients) and try some crazy new idea and lose and be “the guy who sank the campaign with the weird idea.”
That’s unfortunate, because to reach people today you have to speak their pop culture “language” and compete with thousands of messages from “real” advertisers. If you always hit them with “red white and blue,” they tune out. At the same time, unlike “real” advertisers, we can’t sell 365 days of the year so the tendency to stay the course is understandable.
One of my favorite places to catch up on all things ad and design related are the Under Consideration constellation of websites, and in particular, their Brand New blog which chronicles the retooling of corporate logos and brand identity.
Most recently, they wrote about the remake of the Life Savers logo and packaging which was fascinating. Almost everyone knows what Life Savers are – little hard candies that haven’t change that much for decades. Thus, how do simple sugary candies stand out in an era where everything marketed has to be “xtreme” or “totally awesome” and as loud as possible?
The folks at Wrigley’s figured it out – rather than compete on the same level as all the trendy fad candies, coming up with zany flavors, they decided to play to their strength – simplicity. In a crowded aisle full of colorful packaging the Life Savers candy bags – with their simple depiction of just one BIG picture of the candy – stand out.
In politics, sometimes you have to do the same thing to win and get your message out. There was a school of thought (especially in Democratic circles) that to win against the “other side” one had to pre-empt them on “their” issues by making them “yours” as well, so you couldn’t be attacked – you were “innoculated.” (Just take a trip in the Wayback Machine to 1984 and 1988, and you can see why people thought this might be a good idea.)
While that strategy might have made sense in the late 80s and early 90s, as it was with folks like former DLC chairman Bill Clinton when they ran for President, it’s not entirely foolproof. If politicians compete to be more and more alike, the result is often mushy rhetoric that sounds “phony” to the average voter.
Sometimes if you really want to distinguish yourself and your message, you have to stop competing with your opponent on their terms, and redefine the argument to your strengths instead. Plus it has the added benefit of being a bit more honest.
It’s funny how a piece of candy can teach you a lesson about politics. The question is, which Presidential candidates are learning the lesson, and which aren’t?
I guess we’ll see on Tuesday! Don’t forget to vote!
Thanks to The Internets, I was able to see my good friend Jim Spencer of The Campaign Network on the Daily Show, even though I don’t presently have cable.
Jim’s a great guy and one of the best political consultants in the country, and has run some pretty amazing campaigns over the years. I worked with him when we both worked at The Big Company I Can’t Name, and later in 2003, I spent a summer working for his firm in Boston which was quite fun. Here you can see the view from the company’s offices in Boston.
And, thanks to Comedy Central, you can see the video, and learn a little about direct mail! Check it out! (link fixed…)
The funny thing about living in San Francisco is that to the outside world, folks seem to assume this is some sort of Greenie Communist Disneyland, with abortions on demand at every corner, parades in honor of Lenin and Ho Chi Minh, and so on.
Even here in town, you have people that parachute in here, thinking that we’re the capital of the left, and some of even carpetbag themselves into a Congressional run, thinking that they’re in Liberal Lefty Nirvana.
Bzzt! Wrong again!
I say this because as we close in on a Mega Super Happy Fightingest Primary Ever, and Democratic voters try to decide Which Candidate to Vote For, something has been coming up, time and again in conversations I have with Real San Franciscans: a lot of people here will vote for McCain, mostly if Sen. Clinton is the nominee.
It’s really weird. These are not discussions with political folk per se, these are chats with good people of various ages, ethnic backgrounds and whatnot who really live here, and it keeps coming down to something folks really want – after 8 years of the GW Wrecking Crew and 6 years of a GOP congress, this country not only needs a political colonic to flush out the toxins of the past, but also move forward and push aside the professional screamers and assorted idiots that poison politics and get sh*t done.
And for some reason, folks seem to think that Sen. Obama might be the kind of guy who can do such a thing, but they don’t see Hillary (or is it Bill and Hillary) and the politics of the 90s being the way to go, and as such would bolt to McCain in a second.
Read that again. San Franciscans, who are alleged to be godless hippie Communists, will vote for John McCain, pro-life record or not.
Kinda freaky when you re-read it, huh?
And now the punchline – I’m not so sure I won’t be one of them. I know full well the many many problems with McCain’s past, many of his stands on issues are diamertically opposed to my own, and God, the thought of actually voting for a presidential candidate that is in the same party as President 28% and Vice President Vader still gives me the shakes.
At the same time, however, Sen. McCain has been one of the few Washington politicians who has stood up for a rational immigration policy (something of interest to my neighbors out here in the Sunset as well as folks on the east side of town).
And, unlike the Clintons in the 90s, McCain does not see Indian tribes as cash machines for political soft money donations, but instead has tried to force the inherently stupid Department of the Interior to settle the trust lawsuit that was filed to force the feds to admit they stole from millions of people for over 100 years. And up against a more Democratic Congress, a President McCain would be more likely to work with a Speaker Pelosi or a Majority Leader Reid, vs. say a President Guy Smiley (Romney).
Heresy, I know. But people are more concerned about just what kind of country we’ll have, and want to see action, not more shenanigans. President Clinton II or President Romney is more of the same old bullsh*t.
At least with Sen. Obama we might have someone who could try and bring people together, and work with folks (and hopefully a Congress populated with more REAL Democrats to back up Our Speaker ).
But a lot of people are starting to think that if it’s a McCain/Hillary contest, things could go bad, and if even us hippies in San Francisco are thinking about McCain as a legitimate choice, it’s time to take a Clue Pill and try to not invent a new way to f*ck up what should be our chance to set things right.
UPDATE: Yet another reason Democrats should fear McCain. The famous button of the early 90’s “Oh God PLEASE Not Another Republican” seems appropo.
(I won’t deny that it doesn’t hurt that Sen. McCain and Sen. Kennedy honored my cousin Helen, who passed away in 2006, honoring her tireless honesty, fairness, and trailblazing career as a woman journalist in DC. That said, it’s not the ultimate reason, but in the interests of full disclosure bla bla bla, I thought I’d mention it.)
This just in: yet another crap-tastic crack shack has sold in San Francisco for $935,000. SocketSite has been following this one for a while so go there and see pics of this decrepit piece of real estate.
I seriously wonder if we should put this on a billboard, with a pricetag, on billboards that say “Memo to Hippies: The SF of the 60s is dead. Do not come here and expect to rent a room in a big nice house for cheap and live off of handouts. Unless you’re rich enough to buy this crapshack and renovate it to livable standards, please, stay away. Thank You.”
Or something. I mean, at this point, all the housing measures in the world (along with all the ones we’ve passed) don’t seem to mean much if even a craphouse like this is selling for almost a million dollars.
Put another way – how do you build lots of “cheap affordable” housing on super expensive dirt? More importantly, is it really feasible for anyone to build anything that’s not super expensive condos for wealthy childless couples anymore when you have garbage selling for almost a million bucks?