Invite Mad Ave. to party parties

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Nearly 4 million households watched John Kerry's opening pitch at the Red Sox/Yankees game on cable's ESPN July 25, and 3.7 million households tuned in to cable news channels the next night to hear the Democrats' opening pitch at the convention. We see two conclusions: The true contest of red states/blue states has to do with the uniform appeal of baseball. And the Democrats (and Republicans) need your help.

Madison Avenue pioneered presidential TV advertising (Ted Bates' Rosser Reeves and BBDO for Eisenhower) and produced the best ( DDB's "Daisy" for Lyndon Johnson, the Tuesday Team and Hal Riney's "Morning in America" for Reagan). The election business now is run by political consultants who know strategy and tactics, but they fail on compelling creative.

Political ads and conventions create noise that doesn't get heard. Campaigns need marketing: branding, event specialists, the best thinking on nontraditional marketing techniques. Candidates won't find that inside the Beltway.

In Boston last week, the Democrats' party had little life-some compelling speeches, but far more tedium at the podium and entertainment lost in the hubbub. It was a missed opportunity.

Imagine if the Democrats, or the Republicans, hired event-marketing specialists-say, Interpublic's Jack Morton, producer of the opening and closing ceremonies at next month's Olympics. Surely there is a way to try something unconventional: Buy airtime for a prime-time special? Use the Internet for real-time interaction? Ditch the podium?

Marketing's best and brightest have the talent to produce integrated campaigns from ads to events to the Web. It's not about hoodwinking voters, but about honest, compelling communication. Maybe it's too politically volatile for a Jack Morton or DDB to do campaign work today. So set up ad hoc groups of partisan pros. As the Tuesday Team's Phil Dusenberry said, "You only get one day to make the sale." This product matters.

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