Huffington, Silverstein to Ambush GOP Convention

Will Unveil Bus-Shelter Ads on Popular Routes in Twin Cities

By Published on .

The number of protesters at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul in two weeks could total up to 40,000. Add Rich Silverstein and Arianna Huffington to that list.

And Mr. Silverstein, co-founder of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, will be bringing his Cannes Lions-award winning "Haven't We Had Enough?" posters featuring the names, slogans and events that played key roles in all eight years of the Bush administration as submitted by Huffington Post commenters. The ads will appear in 12 bus shelters across the Twin Cities, in an effort that Mr. Silverstein reluctantly describes as ambush marketing.

"I guess it's a little poke in the eye," he allowed. "There's nothing on these posters that is subjective. It's purely what's happened, it's fact. I guess the tagline is subjective, but the information is fact."

The posters are an extension of Mr. Silverstein and his partner Jeff Goodby's efforts to make an impact on the Democratic elections, having unsuccessfully tried to work on specific candidates' campaigns. "We went back to the Democrats so many years ago, and it was really frustrating. The marketers ... I don't believe they'll do anything as impactful as Hal Riney did for the Republicans," he said, pointing to the legendary 1984 Ronald Reagan re-election campaign that proclaimed it "Morning in America." Mr. Silverstein was hard-pressed to pinpoint a moment in the 2008 presidential race that's come close to having the same impact.

"The only thing that had legs was that spot that Hillary did with the 3 o'clock in the morning phone call," he said.

Mr. Silverstein is also contemplating a 60-foot-long version of the list, possibly for the side of a building.

The unveiling of the bus shelter ads remains a "surprise," and will likely be accompanied by a press conference with Mr. Silverstein and HuffPo founder Ms. Huffington.

Mr. Silverstein won't be alone in his quest to reach those flocking to both Minneapolis/St. Paul and Denver. A growing list of marketers will be employing billboards, street teams and even a bit of guerrilla marketing to reach the 200,000-plus attendees, volunteers and protesters at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

Dan Scherer, general manager of CBS Outdoor's Denver unit, said all the market's billboards are sold out and priced at a premium on par with the Olympics in Atlanta. Clients include Toyota, C-Span and the Clean Coal Coalition.

Although Clear Channel has already pulled one ad, for an anti-nuke campaign, at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport, Mr. Scherer doesn't anticipate having to take similar action with any of his clients' ads at this point. "CBS's policy and my own policy is being all for the First Amendment rights. If you want to promote or advertise an initiative, tell me all the good things about your candidate, that's fine. I don't want to take the negative advertising that bad-mouths one opponent over the other, or talks about the negative aspects of an initiative vs. the positive."

But at least one marketer will be encouraging conventioneers to keep any opinions -- political or otherwise -- to themselves. 3M Worldwide, manufacturer of the Post-It, will be promoting green privacy filters that can prevent people seated nearby from seeing what's on your laptop or cellphone screen. Robb Burnham, the brand's creative director, said to expect marketing materials that suggest renaming the GOP to stand for "Good Old Privacy" and the tagline "Give me privacy or give me death."
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