How I got a deaf ear from the Democratic Party


Jim Himes, you are my congressman. Perhaps you suffer from a bad case of Democratitis. It’s contagious. I’ve taken to doing this because of your lack of response to my continual efforts to contact you.

As a congressman, I believe you are responsible for the people who work for you. What they say and what they do. It’s like a small business. I assume they get direction from you.

Three years ago I reached out to you through email. Said I was looking for help and could help you and the Democratic Party.

I told you that I am an Ad Guy, retired but not really, with reasonably good credentials. My strength was concepts. Ideas. And also had demonstrated an ability to take relatively small organizations and make them look big, important and be successful.

My belief then and now is that the party has no identity. Hundreds of millions, maybe more have been spent for fundraising, marketing, social media, promotions. I asked can anyone tell me what the Democrats stand for? Who are they? What are their priorities?

I mentioned I developed a significant presentation addressing many of their problems and offered imaginative solutions. Concepts for TV, print, interactive promotions and positioning lines to make the ideas come alive.

The information was passed on to a young person with limited experience. We made an appointment for coffee near where she lived in Westport. It was confirmed prior to our meeting. She never showed up.

When she did show up a few weeks later, she had one foot out the door. I believe she didn’t understand the presentation. And did something very contradictory.

I told her I was currently working on a project to overcome Hate. I had produced a poster and collectible cards about significant African Americans created and produced in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr.’s family and Betty Shabazz.

Toys “R” Us gave away 200,000 posters at Black History Month. ConEd and CL&P used the material in multicultural programs. The Smithsonian sold them. Schools used them along with Teaching Guides. Channels 4 and 7 in New York interviewed me. They were educational . I brought a poster as a sample. She declined to take it. Said it was a gift. I suggested she show it and then return it. No.

The presentation I gave her was 25 pages and addressed numerous problems facing the Democrats and you, Jim Himes, along with solutions.

I am the author of the book, “What it the Meaning of Life (And 92 other things I don’t have answers to).” I signed a book for her and one for you. That gift she took.

I emailed her subsequent to our meeting, thanking her and reminding her to send me names of people she said would be helpful for me to meet. The information has never arrived.

The Democrats lack direction. I saw a letter you sent out recently. As a marketing professional I’m confused. It wasn’t clear to me whom you’re trying to reach. Is it Democrats? Independents? Republicans? Was the letter the best place to reach your target audience? Was the message the right message? Or did it communicate mostly to your choir?

You and the Democratic Party are my target audience. In attempting to reach you and them I get a deaf ear. I have recently sent you several emails, several examples of the 20-plus op-ed articles I’ve published in Connecticut newspapers.

Almost every advertising account I’ve been involved with has had a unique solution. It’s not only what appears on the TV screen or in social media, it’s the thinking, the strategy that went into the creation of the messages.

I got my feet wet in advertising by creating and producing Kentucky Fried Chicken’s first national venture into advertising, a regional edition ad in Look Magazine. The client expected 100,000 coupon redemptions. We delivered more than 700,000.

At DKG, at one of advertising’s most creative hot shops, I was not only group head but had unique position of creative director of account people. That’s another way of saying “Marketing Troubleshooter.”

At DKG, I was part of team that created the first Express Line for a bank. The theme: “Money isn’t everything.” The Wall Street Journal did a front page feature on the campaign.

George Steinbrenner wanted a campaign highlighting New York Yankees’ tradition. Our response “Come Watch the Legend Grow.” We used Yankees PA announcer Bob Sheppard for the voiceover. Steinbrenner went bonkers over the presentation.

Kolker, Talley Hermann. I was president. Responsible for new business. It was apparent that agencies didn’t believe in advertising. An occasional ad. Never TV. They relied on PR. That was my hook. My prime market was one person. Philip Dougherty, the advertising columnist for The New York Times.

Influential. Hard to impress. Here’s how we did it. We created full page ads to run in the Times. Used Distress Space Rates. Special discount rates offered by the paper. Full page ad about $60,000. Our ad cost $2,000. We ran in Fairfield and Westchester counties: “Advertising that lights a fire under people.”

We developed 30-second TV spots very inexpensive to run on news oriented programs in the metro area. We did a reprint of the ad along with a letter outlining the uniqueness of the campaign. Burned the bottom of the letter to tie in with the campaign . We lit a fire under Dougherty and he devoted a day’s article to us and the campaign. There’s wasn’t one person I wrote to who didn’t get on the phone after they received the mailing.

You hear it over and over. The Democrats need to show some fight. Some excitement. Some enthusiasm. Democratitis is epidemic within the Democratic community. Delay. Delay. Delay. The powers to be don’t really want change. Just look how they ‘re not understanding that voting is the key to all doors. Let’s kick those doors open together.

Greenwich resident Don Hermann is author of “What is the Meaning of Life (And 92 other things I don’t have answers to)?”



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