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If The Boutique Firms Got The Call . . .

New York asked four Manhattan ad agencies known for breakthrough work to design their own Bush and Kerry spots.

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U.S. Survival: Bush-Kerry Election Game 2004
Agency: Mother
“We see this video game as a virtual character debate,” says Mother partner Andrew Deitchman. “We want people to see that Bush is a bully who acts rashly and Kerry is more thoughtful and evolved.” The novelty alone of this Sim City–like game, playable for free on the Web and advertised on TV, would help the Kerry team cut through the TV ad clutter. Free media would play a big role, too. A video game featuring candidates as apes? “That would get picked up by news outlets,” says Mother partner Paul Malmstrom.

See the spot they created>>>


The Great Debate
Agency: Kaplan Thaler Group
In a 1992 spot, Linda Kaplan Thaler introduced the memorable image of a teenage Bill Clinton shaking the hand of JFK. Forced to swap sides here, she pits John Kerry against John Kerry, using the Democrat’s own contradictory statements to paint him as a serial waffler. Kaplan Thaler says the agency scrapped ideas that featured Bush: “If you’re going to do negative advertising, people enjoy it more if it has a wink. And I wouldn’t even call this negative. It’s almost like saying, ‘We don’t need to contradict Kerry, he already did it himself.’ ”

See the spot they created>>>


Speechless
Agency: Mad Dogs & Englishmen
“The more we started going positive for Kerry, we realized the real traction has been how you felt about Bush,” says Mad Dogs executive creative director Deacon Webster. Without mentioning the president by name, the ad raises questions about Bush’s brainpower and his Texas-cowboy, damn-the-U.N. foreign policy. “There’s been a move toward, ‘Oh, Bush is folksy,’ ” explains co-creator Jaime Robinson. “But at a certain point, you have to realize that the presidency is an important job.” The message: “It’s nice to have someone who has gravitas.”

See the spot they created>>>


Flip-Flop
Agency: Dimassimo Brand Advertising
‘People are going to love or hate this—which to my mind is the definition of a good spot,” says Mark DiMassimo, who once created campaigns for Roger Ailes at CNBC. Gambling on simplistic images to taint a candidate hasn’t paid off since, perhaps, Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 “Daisy” ad. “It’s such strong stuff that I think campaigns are afraid to go there,” DiMassimo says. “But I believe that our minds run on stories and on myths.” The story here? “These are decisive times, and Kerry waffles and seesaws and flip-flops.”

See the spot they created>>>

Assignments were made randomly and do not necessarily reflect the political opinions of the agencies.


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