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Updating the Product

According to the Federal Election Commission, the Bush-Cheney ticket has spent a record $150 million to date to defeat its Democratic opponents. Its pitch—"Yes, America Can!"—is a mainstay of the campaign's Web site. Though fighting terrorism is critical to the GOP platform, President Bush recently put his opposition to gay marriage front and center. Last week, five top ad guns suggested how Kerry-Edwards could win the race. Now they offer ways Bush/Cheney can keep the White House.

Gary Resch, senior copywriter/creative director, Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide (Clients: Diet Coke, Samsung):

Considering that Iraq's instability is the biggest political threat to the administration's campaign for reelection, I'd have Bush address the nation for 30 seconds from a "field of dreams" in the middle of Baghdad, a perfectly manicured baseball diamond upon which happy Iraqi children engage in what will implicitly be Iraq's future favorite pastime. The absence of a bulletproof vest on the president will not go unnoticed by the viewers: All's clear.

In order to soften Cheney's image, I'd animate him. CGI Cheney would have wings, and he'd perch on the president's shoulder. The absence of a pacemaker on his feathered breastplate would not go unnoticed by the viewers: All's clear. America is recovering.

Ann Hayden, executive creative director, Young & Rubicam New York (AT&T, Computer Associates, MetLife)

It's time for Bush and Cheney to get out there and make America feel optimistic again. Use the rules of good packaged goods: Even if it's old stuff, always say new. Always say improved. New and improved what? Suits? No. Lies? No. How about something bright and cheery? A new and improved happy place? That's it. Put them behind the green curtain in the land of Oz and make sure Toto's in the kennel that day.

Tom Messner, partner, Euro RSCG New York/founding partner, Messner Vetere Berger Carey (Reagan-Bush '84, MCI):

There's a movie called Michael Moore Hates America. Send people to go see that one. Assuming my first suggestion [for the Kerry/Edwards team to advise people to see Fahrenheit 9/11
] was bought by Kerry, I'd immediately advise the Bush campaign to tell people to go to the Web site for this movie. The whole battle could be removed from ads and just take place in movie theaters. Maybe there could be a double feature.

Lor Gold, chief creative officer, Draft Chicago (U.S. Postal Service, Kellogg's, M&M Mars, Brinks):

At least you know who they are, what they stand for and what they've done. They've proven themselves. It's not like you're buying a car, and you don't know its mechanical history. If you get Kerry/Edwards, you don't know what they're going do; they're not proven yet. From that premise, take photojournalistic shots of Bush/Cheney; they're all about relationships. All the shots would be of them with people who really feel they have a lot to lose if they give up on these guys: firemen who surrounded them post-Sept. 11, schoolchildren. Show them talking straight to the UN, saying boldly what needs to happen.

Then you hear this voiceover saying, "They stand for homeland protection. They stand for straight talk. They stand for responsibility. They stand for you and your family. Bush/Cheney—you know where they stand." That's what's going to make somebody think if they're on the fence.

Charlie Hopper, vice president/creative director, Young & Laramore Indianapolis (Steak 'n' Shake Restaurants, Galyans Sports & Outdoor Adventure):

The wind is in Bush's favor; we don't like to change. The key to Bush prevailing is, he's got to shut up. We have to see him with that charming little Yale half-smile that all the Republican women fall for, where his eyes crinkle up. [It's as if he's saying,] "Everything's going to be OK. This is all going to blow over. I hired the right people in the right places, and I'm going to be the CEO."

Have some nice slo-mo photography of him walking with the dogs, across the rose garden, with Laura—nothing as grand as what they did on the aircraft carrier. But don't
let him talk. Back off his actual voice.

He's got the advantage. Kerry/Edwards has to make up because they have to show us they're charming—and it's all about charm. A wink to the camera, and that'll do it for him. Just show him looking confident, friendly and he'll get reelected. Most people come to his defense anyway when he gets attacked. They've already got preconceived notions of what's going on.