And what Love Advertising, Houston, has come up with could become one of the most controversial -- and most broadly attacked -- campaigns of the Presidential election.
Love's commercial, for Pat Buchanan, the Reform Party candidate often described as xenophobic, is an acerbic depiction of the candidate's stand to sharply limit immigration. It features a man choking on a meatball and dialing 911 for help, only to die as he wades through more and more language options on the 911 recording. The campaign has already broken on radio; TV will run in 10 states. The effort also has the distinction of being the first 2000 presidential campaign spot to run nationally; it will also run on UPN's WWF wrestling and on cable.
Brenda Love, president of Love Advertising, said since it has a smaller bankroll than its Democratic and GOP rivals, the Buchanan campaign was looking for breakthrough creative. "We were asked to present some ideas on how to make $12.6 million [the amount the campaign gets in federal funding] stretch," she said. They wanted somebody with a different approach."
Love also buys media for Buchanan.
The spot generated immediate response in some quarters. California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres, in a published report, called it "pathetic and should be condemned by all," adding "English will always be our national language and no amount of fear mongering or clicking of the heels will change that."
Commented Lisa Navarrette, deputy vice chair for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights group: "There is a reason Pat Buchanan is getting 1% of the vote."
Buchanan campaign Finance Chairman Clymer Wright, who lives in the Houston area and was enlisted to scope out an advertising agency, chose Love after looking at several other, non-political shops.
"I contacted a lot of people in the political ad business but found that most of them were tied up with Democrats or Republicans," he said. "I decided after that experience, I would look for talented people outside the political area."
Mr. Wright said Love was selected because it was "best prepared" with sample Buchanan ads to show during the agency review.
Ms. Love, president of the $23 million agency, said her shop did some work several years ago for a local judicial candidate but hasn't done any other political work. Its largest client is a furniture retailer.
"It is a real challenge and a real opportunity for us," she added.
Last year William Eisner & Associates, Hales Corners, Wis., was tapped by Steve Forbes in his bid for the GOP presidential nomination. That agency, however, had already done some political work for a candidate for U.S. Senate from Wisconsin.