Andy Berlin's latest hurdle: Selling of Candidate Dole

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GOP campaign belatedly picks gen'l market-agency

In relying solely on Fallon McElligott Berlin for its Madison Avenue expertise, Bob Dole's campaign is breaking the GOP precedent of using an all-star team of creatives from different agencies.

The question now is whether the campaign's delayed selection of a general-market shop to complement its coterie of political-ad experts leaves agency Chairman-CEO Andy Berlin sufficient time to bolster Mr. Dole's image.

`A LITTLE LATE'

"There is no question it is a little late," said Phil Dusenberry, vice chairman of BBDO Worldwide, New York, and a member of the so-called Tuesday Team that handled President Reagan's re-election. "If Andy and his people go to work right now, they can be out there at the right time. But they have no time to waste."

It was Mr. Dusenberry who put Mr. Berlin on a short list of potential candidates he suggested to Republicans. Fallon McElligott Berlin was hired to prepare a film for the Republican National Convention about Mr. Dole and also to do "aspirational" advertising for the election (AA, July 1).

The GOP assignment continues a hot streak for the 15-month-old agency, whose clients include Coca-Cola Co. and The Washington Post. It will work closely with New Century Media, the house agency that Dole media adviser Don Sipple set up with Mike Murphy of Murphy, Pintak & Gautier, McLean, Va., which did Lamar Alexander's GOP primary advertising and has worked in several presidential campaigns.

BERLIN A FULL PARTNER

Mr. Murphy said exact duties will be worked out during the campaign and that Mr. Berlin will be a full partner in those discussions.

Messrs. Sipple and Murphy also have access to political resources that include Stuart Stevens Group, New York, which did Mr. Dole's primary campaign; Chris Mattolla, a Philadelphia media adviser; and possibly Greg Stevens from Greg Stevens & Co., Arlington, Va.

Mr. Murphy said Mr. Berlin "is a first-rate talent . . . He is good at challenging the conventional thinking and he's a Republican."

"Like anyone who has been in the country over the last 20 years, I have watched the role advertising has played and wondered how the strategic process applied," said Mr. Berlin, 46.

This is Mr. Berlin's first political ad assignment and he said he was impressed with the professional approach, the clear brief to the agency, the campaign's willingness to pay traditional compensation and Mr. Sipple's alliance with his rival from the primary, Mr. Murphy.

Fallon McElligott Berlin's hiring comes just six weeks before the Aug. 12-15 Republican National Convention, when the film will be shown. Less than a week later, Mr. Dole gets access to $27 million in federal money to fund the election campaign and will launch his first election advertising.

Mr. Dusenberry outlined the task ahead for Mr. Berlin's agency.

"You have to have creative positioning, something that in 30 or 60 seconds gives you a clear picture of who this man is, what he stands for and what he is all about and why he is distinctively different from Bill Clinton. We haven't had that yet," he said.

Mr. Berlin said he has been "convinced" by Messrs. Sipple and Murphy that he has adequate time, though he declined to offer an indication of planned strategy.

The high-profile agency executive signed on with the campaign after a vote of his executive committee; the shop's Democrats don't have to participate. Mr. Dusenberry believes Mr. Berlin is up to the challenge.

"You need a tough creative guy, someone to fight for a point of view and he's very good at it," Mr. Dusenberry said. "He's very passionate about advertising and politics and he will serve everyone well."

Copyright July 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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