To some, Fred Davis is a visionary of the political moving picture. To others, he's just plain wacky.
The man behind some of the most memorable Republican ads and web videos of the last few election cycles worked with just-declared GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina during her failed 2010 run for Senate. And he is not impressed with Ms. Fiorina's campaign announcement Monday.
"I was pretty surprised to see that announcement video," said Mr. Davis. "She's been a risk taker," he added, recalling Ms. Fiorina's willingness to turn his novel video concepts such as the famed "Demon Sheep" ad into campaign reality. "I didn't see any signs of that in her announcement video," he said during a call with Ad Age today. "It seemed kind of middle of the road standard."
The risks Mr. Davis refers to were manifest in surreal video imagery crafted for Ms. Fiorina's 2010 primary run for Senate in California, when she won over opponent Tom Campbell, and during the general when she was defeated by Sen. Barbara Boxer. The Demon Sheep ad culminated with creepy scenes featuring a sheep-like creature with glowing crimson eyes, intended to symbolize Mr. Campbell as a wolf in sheep's clothing, or a "Fiscal Conservative in Name Only."
"She was quick to approve that," said Mr. Davis regarding Ms. Fiorina's decision to go with the Demon Sheep idea. "She had the guts to let us run it."
Another Davis-devised web film visualized Ms. Boxer's "elitist self-image," as the Senator ballooned to behemoth proportions, busting through the dome of the capitol.
He also created the infamous spot in which Republican Christine O'Donnell, during her run for a Congress representing Delaware, declared, "I'm not a witch. I'm nothing you've heard. I'm you."
The John McCain campaign video from 2008 comparing then-candidate Barack Obama to celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? That, too, was sprung from the mind of Mr. Davis, as was a prolific series of videos filmed for Jon Huntsman's 2012 GOP presidential primary campaign featuring expansive desert imagery and interviews with the candidate about his rock 'n' roll past.
An astute political observer will note that all of these candidates had something in common other than being Republicans who ran risky ads; none of them ended up in office.
But don't expect anything so out-of-the-ordinary by way of Mr. Davis to support Ms. Fiorina's 2016 run. He confirmed he does not plan to work with the Fiorina 2016 camp.
"I adore Carly, and the team she has around her are really good people, but they're not people I work with," said Mr. Davis.
The video provocateur's handiwork will be back in the political spotlight, however, said Mr. Davis, who told Ad Age he is working with a presidential hopeful who has yet to announce. From the Republican field, the possible clients include Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Donald Trump among others. He said he anticipates his video work will be used more for TV ads than web video. "I expect to see innovation return to the presidential world," said Mr. Davis.