Please Stand By

As we, all of us, prepare to vote on Tuesday, I am reminded of my favorite election media buy story. Feel free to regale me with your election media buy stories if you like. This is my only one.

It may be apocryphal, and my memory is fuzzy since I read this only once in a book store while perusing those big, glossy books taht can be had for a pittance in the remainder bin. You know, the ones that make you feel–or at least make me feel–kind of sad. It's like passing by a restaurant going out of business and thinking about all the hope and money that went into its opening day.

This book was about Malcolm Forbes, the "capitalist tool" who knew how to live big and die well, forgiving debts and handing out bonuses to the folks who had helped turn his magazine into a money machine. Nobody has to feel sad for him or his big, glossy book, by the way.

Anyway, he ran for governor of New Jersey back in the 1950's. New Jersey lacked its own TV station, but he paid a bundle to buy the first half-hour of prime time at 8 p.m. on a station, or maybe it was all the stations, that reached the state on the night before the election.

His opponent, who either didn't have much money or had a lot of campaign smarts, went out and bought a minute of time at 7:59 on the same station/stations and programmed it with static.

Sets were turned off in droves and Forbes was defeated. Forbes may have been defeated anyway, but that was the most creative minute of ad time ever spent, if you ask me, and even if you don't.

Oh, and please don't stand by on Tuesday and let other people decide the future of the country. "Vote for the Kennedy* of your choice," to quote Vaughn Meader, "but vote."

* And don't start complaining that I am pushing Dems. It's a joke. You know. Ha, ha.

By John Eggerton