Butting Heads: Ventura's adman helps MA candidate take on the "Big Dig"

"Cranial rectal inversion": that's the scientific term, I think, for what Minneapolis ad man Bill Hillsman depicts in a new ad for Massachusetts independent gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos. The ad is incredibly simple: it features a hand-drawn version of Mihos asking a "Bechtel Engineer" and state politicians why the Big Dig--the most expensive highway project in America, running through Boston--is $12 billion over budget. Before they can answer, the engineers' heads get embedded, as if by gravitational pull, in their posteriors.

Hillsman and his North Woods Advertsing get away with the gag thanks to the softening power of illustration, likening bureaucrats to "buttheads" (or worse) while casting Mihos as the independent who'll ask tough questions. Just as Hillsman did for Jesse Ventura, the ad has raised Mihos' profile--one measure of a good ad is whether paid placements generate additional free media coverage. "He’s probably gotten more attention because of this ad than virtually anything he’s done in this campaign," says Paul Watanabe, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

According to a recent poll, the Big Dig is an issue Massachusetts voters are steamed about: 86% of those polled think problems with the project (including a tunnel collapse that killed a motorist) have harmed the state's reputation. The same survey also includes a sobering fact for Mihos: he's got the support of just over five percent of voters.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey paul,

Christy and I are buddies.