Monday, January 10, 2011

The Talent Search

There's a been a lot of talk about George LeMieux having an informal meeting with GOP media strategist, Fred Davis. It's attracted more attention than Mike "The Appeaser" Haridopolos sitting down with Tampa strategist, Adam Goodman. Adam is a good name in Florida circles, but Davis has got a huge national profile, so that's what all the buzz has been about.

Davis famously did McCain's reasonably well received "Celebrity" commercial. Of course, he's now most famous for his web ad for Carly Fiorina, the famous "Demon Sheep" commercial. "Demon Sheep" was, to say the least, less well-received. It was considered laughable, confusing, and a bit of a distraction for the campaign (who had to answer questions about her media strategy, instead of talking about her qualifications for a while). But it also drew a lot of attention to the campaign and maybe they decided it was worth it, in the end.

In any case, if LeMieux is considering hiring Davis, it shows he understands that he is coming into this race from a position of relative weakness. Someone like Davis is almost guaranteed to help him run a paid media operation that operates "out of the box." I get nervous when people talk about working "outside of the box," but when you're in LeMieux's position, the best way to lose is to run a standard campaign, because all things being equal, in that scenario, he loses. He has to shake things up and stand out in some way.

One of Fred Davis' quirky ads could turn him into a laughingstock, or it could create the kind of daylight between himself and Haridopolos and Mack that he so desperately needs. Mack can run a traditional campaign that capitalizes on a name that is well, if not deeply, beloved in GOP circles. Haridopolos can flex the almost dictatorial powers he's going to have in Tallahassee to wring endorsements and support from establishment power players across the state. LeMieux can't do either of these things, so he will need to do something to stand out.

Maybe a crazy ad campaign is just the ticket. At the very least, it might be worth a try.


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