Can “Mad Men” Help Clinton Win?

Clinton Will Use Scare Ads Against Trump

One my favorite all time television shows is Mad Men.  For those who have never seen the show it is about Don Draper, one of the most talented creative directors New York.

The show was set in the 1960’s when Madison Avenue ad agencies were changing the way people bought everything from soap to presidential candidates.

Recently, POLITICO did an interesting story on how two of the “Mad Men,” in charge of the President Lyndon Johnson 1964 campaign against Sen. Barry Goldwater, used fear to drive home their point.

Fear will likely be the key for Hillary Clinton in her battle with Donald Trump, because 1964 and 2016 have a great deal in common when it comes to politics.

In ’64 you had Goldwater the ultra-conservative, a bully who’s lack of foreign policy knowledge scared Americans and their allies. Trump has like Goldwater put our allies on edge and has shown a real lack of anything remotely resembling a foreign policy.


He like Goldwater scares many voters in this country, with that lack of trust on how he would act as president on a worldwide stage. Meanwhile, Clinton suffers from the lack of trust LBJ had in 1964. The Civil rights and what he was going to do to help really breakdown the color barrier, was a trust issue for many voters.  So, Johnson represented the establishment that for years turned a blind eye to the civil rights movement and many members of his own party who were not committed to civil rights. Also, the United States were just getting involved Vietnam and like Clinton, LBJ faced many questions about leadership.

Again, LBJ and Clinton were tied to decisions being made on their own foreign policy actions. So, how did LBJ the establishment insider, who was living in the shadow of the legend of “Camelot,” and John Kennedy actually win?

A 7

He used fear of what a outsider like Goldwater would do as president to scare voters away from him.

LBJ’s ad team: Sid Myers, former art director at Doyle Dane Bernbach, the campaign’s advertising firm; and Lloyd Wright, the Democratic National Committee’s media coordinator during the 1964 race.

In a conversation moderated by Robert Mann, author of Daisy Petals and Mushroom Clouds: LBJ, Barry Goldwater, and the Ad That Changed American Politics, these ad men told us why they ended up respecting Goldwater, how Hillary Clinton could use Trump’s comments about Mexicans against him, and whether 2016 will have its own “Daisy” ad. I strongly suggest that you ready the transcript of the POLITICO interview but here are a couple of every interesting segments from the story.

A 12

Here they talk about what was similar about 1964 and the 2016 election:

Robert: Part of Goldwater’s demise was that he wouldn’t backtrack; he would double-down on his crazier statements. And now that it’s time for the general election, Trump is trying to moderate his image and soften it a little bit. Goldwater made it easy for you in that he didn’t try to change his position as much as Trump presumably will. So if you’re Hillary, how do you respond to that?

Lloyd: I’m thinking of our “Confessions of a Republican” spot, which was 4 minutes long. It basically took something Goldwater said once and then later said the exact opposite. Then we asked the question “Did he mean that when he said it, or did he mean it when he said, ‘I didn’t mean it like that?’
The two Mad Men talked about how Trump has not yet been really hit on a number of fronts. They talked about how they would handle that part of the general election campaign.

Robert: There’s a lot about Trump that hasn’t yet been used in negative ads. Many of Goldwater’s Republican opponents held their fire in the primaries because they either were afraid or didn’t take him seriously enough — which made it easier for you to beat him in the general. Is 2016 like 1964 in that respect?

Sid: I think that the Clinton campaign has a whole trove on Trump that they’re holding back. You know, it is very tough for the Republicans to attack him — they don’t want to destroy the whole structure of the Republican Party by damaging the guy so badly that there would be negative thoughts in voters’ heads about their problemed party.

A 11

Finally, would they offer any advice on how Clinton could beat Trump?

Robert: Is there any other advice you’d give Clinton about taking on Trump?

Sid: I’m not going to give away my secrets. [Laughter] If they want to know, they can hire me.

Lloyd: I think they’re headed in the right direction. They need to use voices — others’ voices — to express Hillary’s concerns and her point of view, rather than having the candidate do it. She’d be better off just campaigning and not spending a lot of time getting dragged into a debate with Trump.

Again, outstanding work from our friends at POLITICO in putting this trio of Mad Men together.

We have already seen Trumps own words being used in a Clinton spot targeted at women voters. There are ads about Trump University and more damming ones no doubt in the pipeline.

Not that Trump lacks any ammunition in this battle. He has 30 very public years that he can use against both Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The key will be can Clinton’s Mad Men come up with that one perfect set of ad spots that scares the voters into staying away from Trump. It should be interesting to watch.








Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.