Let's expand on your particular candidate. You've got a sitting judge who
is a completely non-political person. How do you sell him? |
On one hand it's more difficult for us because he's not a politician, and on
the other hand it was wonderful for us to have a candidate like him. . . He was
appointed judge nine months ago. He's never run for political office, no one
knows him, so to get somebody to know him ends up being a greater challenge. .
. We would be talking about [him] as if we were launching a product, which in
fact we were. . . We had to overcome the judge's own personal humility. And
that was quite something to go through with him.
We're in the process more and more where we're politicizing the judiciary.
I'm an advertising professional. You would think that I would not have a
problem with the way judicial candidates are elected, but I do. I think that
there's something really wrong with the system itself, particularly in the area
of campaign spending. That's where I personally have a lot of struggle. Being
an advertising professional you would think that I would be in favor of the
candidate and a candidate's team coming up with as much money as they possibly
could to get the person elected. There's something wrong, because it's either
the wealthy or the politically connected who have a competitive advantage. And
often times we see extremely qualified candidates hurt, lose because they don't
have the money, and they don't have that political machinery behind them. . .
The judicial side of our government is something that should be not political
and it is.
Are people buying elections?
I haven't a doubt. We've seen it, we've been through it where there is such an
exorbitant amount of spending to get somebody elected that there's no way to
describe it any other way to me. I really believe that we are in a system
where elections can be bought. It's sad.
What is the implication of that in the long run.
I think the bottom line is that people who are qualified, who have everything
going for them and for us, end up not being put on a bench, or not put in a
public office. And there's something radically wrong and I would like to see
it changed. . .
Do the voters who are voting for judge really know who they're voting
The answer to that question is absolutely not, they don't. The voters, it's
unfortunate, but I believe that the voters do not oftentimes know who they're
voting for. . . Oftentimes we'll see a prosecutor who is running for a judicial
seat and they have a competitive advantage on one hand because the voter may
understand who that person is. . . The only way that we have currently to
educate the voter is through the candidates political campaign. And is that an
adequate way for us to be educated? No it isn't. So people I'm sure walk out
of the voting booth, after having voted for a jurist, pull a lever based on
whatever information--good, bad, the way a person's name is pronounced--and
they don't know the first thing about that candidate or whether that candidate
is even qualified. . . We have to tell our candidates all the time--'we don't
have enough time to educate the voters on all of your qualifications.'
So you go for an emotional response.
There's no question that I go for an emotional response. . . Am I concerned
with having the most cinematic music that I can possibly have behind a radio
spot? Am I concerned about what the light looks like when our candidate walks
into a court room? Am I concerned about how he looks--that we present him the
way he should be seen by the voters as a dignified, wonderful, humble,
hard-working, incredible, deserving-of-your-vote kind of guy. Yes, I do. They
are emotional angles that I go in. And yes, people do vote based on that. . .
Soup is sold from an emotional perspective. An amalgamated widget needs to be
sold from an emotional perspective and so does a judicial candidate. . .
Let me read a couple of lines from your ad in today's paper. "Judge Burke,
working to enhance quality of life in our area. . . unsurpassed reputation . .
holds those accountable for their actions . . concerned about our children's
future. I mean none of those are like bell-ringers are they?
It seems like you're desperately trying NOT to say things.
It's tough. . . Can a jurist say that he is going to keep the streets safe?
They have. Are they allowed to? They are not. . . I can't tell you how many
times [I've seen] jail cell doors slam in a judicial spot. It is
inappropriate, not allowed. Is it done? Yes it is. . . They do it because
they know in this particular market that people want law and order. Boom.
We'll give them law and order. How is it stopped? I don't know the answer to
that question. . . We end up having to do a vanilla ad, and a vanilla ad does
not grab someone and say--'My god this is the man who should be elected judge.'
Bottom line the reason is because there are certain things we can say and there
are certain things we cannot. . .
If you gave them the real facts about his legal knowledge and understanding,
that just would fall flat, wouldn't work?
The voters would be bored to death with it and that's the bottom line. . . They
would just go to sleep and we don't need them to go to sleep, we need them to
go and vote. . .
So, basically the only way of really selling a qualified candidate is to
tell the folks everything but what the facts are about the legal qualifications
of that candidate?
We walk a fine line, we have a responsibility to let the voters know why the
man is qualified. . . But we have to let the people know that in an emotional
way with all the music and with the wonderful voice over. . .
What you've just said opens the door to people with virtually no real
judicial temperament, no measurable resume to qualify because they have
enough money and a smart enough consultant.
A person who is not qualified, who has enough money, who has a real smart
political handler, can end up sitting in a judicial seat who has absolutely no
business being there. . . I would like to believe that it's about time that
advertising professionals take a look at what we are doing as well. We need to
go inside and say as an industry and say--'first let me make sure that I have
the person who deserves to be elected here.' And not take candidates based on
how much money they have or how much political clout they will have. Call me
naive, I don't care.
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