There are a lot of things I like about Bill Richardson--and some big gaffes that concern me, too. (And it always worries me when Owen likes the same candidates I do.)
But one of the things that appeals most to me is Richardson's willingness to take risks and do something different in the way he presents himself to voters--specifically in his advertising. I always liked that about Russ Feingold, too, and was really looking forward to a Feingold candidacy in part just for the commercials. In fact, I have a small cache of ideas for "Feingold 08" ads that I was just sitting on, waiting for the official announcement--clearly unusable now.
So, instead, I'll offer these to Bill Richardson's people. Well, you know, if anyone else wants to use them, they can, but I think Richardson's established the right tone for his campaign.
The three commercials below (I have ideas for a few more, but these are a start) all feature a group of three 20-something campaign volunteers that maybe aren't the brightest bulbs. They're the kind of guuys you might see in a Mountain Dew commercial; they look almost slackerish, but they wear their "Richardson for President" swag with pride. They mean well, even if they don't always get it.
1. "Fortune Cookies"Okay, so they're not great and they don't say anything about Richardson's qualifications. But they can all be done in 15 seconds and would be great to raise name recognition, right? They'd at least make for good viral video for the YouTube crowd.
The lights come up on a typewriter in a back room of the Richardson campaign office. You see hands rolling a very small piece of paper into the typewriter, then typing "Richardson for President" on it. The hands yank the paper out, and put in another, typing the same thing, The camera pans back, and we see it's Slacker #1 at the typewriter. He hands the little piece of paper to Slacker #2, who folds it and stuffs it into a fortune cookie.
The door opens, and Bill Richardson is standing there. We see the room from his perspective--typing slacker, stuffing slacker, and Slacker #3 stapling closed the plastic on a re-wrapped fortune cookie, maybe with a few cookie crumbs falling from his mouth onto his Richardson for President t-shirt.
"What's going on in here?" Richardson asks, bewildered. Slacker #1 looks up from the typewriter: "The internet is down, man." Richardson gives the camera a look, and goes back through the door, shaking his head.
Close-up on our three slackers, happy, rough-housing, and painting--all of them have rollers, and we watch as they giddly apply red, white, and blue paint to something. One has a stencil set and is painting the words "Bill Richardson for President." The music is upbeat and the guys are having a great time--but we just can't see the full scope of their painting project.
Cut to the front door of the Richardson for President campaign headquarters. Richardson is being pulled out of the door by a person in a uniform who is obviously quite agitated. Richardson stops short, shocked at what he sees, and then says, "What's going on out here?"
Slacker #1, still close up, holding a dripping paint brush, says, "You asked us to paint your campaign bus."
Back to Richardson, who points off camera and says, "Yes. That bus!" The camera pans to where he pointed, and we see an untouched "Richardson for Governor 2006" campaign bus a few yards away. Back to the slackers, but in a wide shot: They're in front of a half-painted Albuquerque city bus at a bus stop. The passengers are all staring down from the windows. We realize now that the person in uniform is the bus driver. Richardson gives the camera that same look as before.
*****3. "Door Hanger"
The commercial opens with Slacker #3 as seen from the perspective of various opening doors--we figure out that he's out knocking on doors distributing campaign literature, which he has in an armful. No one says anything, but we see, from the inside of each house, the door open, Slacker #3 smile and offer a piece if lit, and then the door closes as he looks disappointed.
Another door--maybe the fifth or sixth now--opens and, rather than smile, Slacker #3 can't believe his eyes. We switch to his perspective, and there's a slacker woman, perhaps in her own Richardson for President t-shirt, also astounded by who's at his door. As the opening notes of, oh, "Let's Get it On" start to play, Slacker #3 drops his armful of literature on the porch.
Cut to Richardson walking down the street, waving, shaking hands, followed closely on either side by Slackers #1 and #2. Richardson stops short in front of a house, and says, "What's going on here?" We see what's stopped him, as the camera shows the porch covered in the fallen campaign lit. The camera pans up to the door, where a Richardson for President door hanger is swaying gently in the breeze.
Back to Richardson, who isn't sure what to make of the scene. Behind him though, the Slackers know exactly what the door hanger means, and they give each other a knowing look and a high-five.