By Tk Published on .

Last month legendary Chicago adman Jan Zechman made political advertising history in a campaign for a lawyer named Bob Coleman, who ran in the Republican primary for Illinois Attorney General. Zechman worked up a three-spot campaign for Coleman, directed by John Komnenich of Chicago's Komnenich Films, that was out-and-out comedy: Coleman makes a rousing speech to what turns out to be an audience of one little girl; Coleman addresses a Polish group in their native tongue and says, "My uncle's chicken is dancing in his underwear"; Coleman is in the studio for a photo op while holding an assortment of babies, and when the tots don't cry hysterically they throw up on him. The tag: "A great lawyer, not a great politician."

As it turned out, Coleman lost, with 34 percent of the vote, but Zechman, who these days works on a project basis out of a consultancy called Zechman Creative, won big time. The campaign got plenty of national attention and the spots will be choice plums on the Zechman reel. Though he'd never done political advertising before and he insists he doesn't want to do it again, Zechman is looking to attract other business. But how does he feel about opening a potential Pandora's Box of political advertising as entertainment? "Sounds good to me," he laughs. "When we started, Coleman was an extreme underdog - nobody had ever heard of him. We treated him as any product coming into a crowded marketplace and we broke every rule that politicians make about advertising. The spots weren't designed to elect him; they were designed to give him awareness. Now he's a household word around here. I think we're on the side of the angels. We're not making him a fool - we're gently lampooning the political process."

Assuming you buy this take on the story, it has a familiar moral: "To do great work, you need a damn smart client," says Zechman. "I told Coleman what we wanted to do - it's never been done before, it's high risk, high reward. He went for it right away. And he laughed harder at the spots than anybody."

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