"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
-Oscar Wilde
Brilliant at Breakfast title banner "The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
"...you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?" -- Steve Gilliard, 1964 - 2007

"For straight up monster-stomping goodness, nothing makes smoke shoot out my ears like Brilliant@Breakfast" -- Tata

"...the best bleacher bum since Pete Axthelm" -- Randy K.

"I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I'm all out of bubblegum." -- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (1954-2015), They Live
Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Well, it's about freakin' time
Posted by Jill | 8:04 AM
Imagine that you're, say, in charge of evaluating proposals from a variety of vendors for a product or service. Only instead of your goal being to obtain the best product or service for the lowest price, you're evaluated at the end of the year based on how much of the company's money you spent -- the more you spent, the bigger your bonus.

Yeah, like that'll happen.

Except that it does -- in the Democratic Party.

After John Kerry's loss in 2004, I remember reading about how Democratic consultants like eight-time loser Bob Shrum don't get paid for how well their media strategies work; they get paid based on how much they spend. But it's worse than I even knew, and at least this year's Democratic candidates have finally realized how this strategy has failed:

It was the spring of 2004, and Senator John Kerry had just secured the Democratic presidential nomination. But as huge sums of money began pouring into his campaign, his top strategists had more on their minds than just getting ready for a tough race against President Bush.

Behind the scenes, they were fighting over the lucrative fees for handling Mr. Kerry’s television advertising. The campaign manager, Mary Beth Cahill, became so fed up over the squabbling that she told the consultants, led by Robert Shrum, one of the most prominent and highly paid figures in the business, to figure out how to split the money themselves.

Divvy it up they did. Though the final tally has never been publicly disclosed, interviews and records show that the five strategists and their firms ultimately took in nearly $9 million, the richest payday for any Democratic media consultants up to then and roughly what the Bush campaign paid its consultants for a more extensive ad campaign.

Mr. Shrum and his two partners, Tad Devine and Mike Donilon, walked away with $5 million of the total. And that was after Ms. Cahill, in the closing stages of the race that fall, diverted $1 million that would otherwise have gone to the consultants to buying more advertising time in what turned out to be an unsuccessful effort to defeat Mr. Bush.

Questions about how the Kerry campaign could have become such a bonanza for one small group of advisers — and whether the fees squandered money that could have been used for courting voters — are still reverberating inside Democratic circles as the 2008 campaign moves into high gear. And with more money than ever on the line this time around, resentment has been building, donors and other operatives say, at how, win or lose, presidential elections have become gold mines for the small and often swaggering band of media consultants who dominate modern campaigns.

As a result, the Democratic presidential hopefuls are seeking to impose more controls on the consultants. In doing so, they are moving more into line with their Republican counterparts, who by and large have kept tighter rein on how they handle their media teams, which shape the candidates’ messages, produce their television ads and buy the air time.

The three leading Democrats — Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards — are all clamping down. They are following what has become an almost standard practice among Republican presidential nominees by paying their media advisers flat fees, or placing a cap on their payments, rather than making payments based on a percentage of the amount they pay television stations to broadcast their commercials.


In interviews, aides said Ms. Clinton, of New York, and Mr. Edwards, of North Carolina, had negotiated flat fees with their top consultants. And Mr. Obama, of Illinois, has capped what his consultants can earn, which will convert their more traditional percentage deal into a flat fee once his ad spending passes a certain threshold, his aides say.

“That is a startling change in the way major Democratic presidential candidates operate,” said James A. Thurber, a professor at American University in Washington who has studied political consultants.

And it's long overdue. Perhaps this is why Bob Shrum is spending his time promoting his book and serving as a dinosaur/pundit on cable news. It's still not perfect; there's still too much money being funnelled into the pockets of a few high-profile consultants with spotty-at-best records of success. But at least it's a start.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share
Blogger Distributorcap said...
this is very similar to how regular ad agencies get paid --- a percent of business (media) booked -- so the incentive is to book more, even if you arent selling more toyotas or cans of pepsi.

i didnt realize that is how the politicians did it. working in the heart of a place that sells/books and airs this stuff --- now i understand a lot more.

what is even more ridiculous is people like shrum (who i personally think might be among the WORST 'consultants' or 'pundits' in history) are not held accountable for their disasterous media planning strategies. if you are the agency for Chevrolet or Mastercard --- if get fired if you dont increase sales. Here people continue to hire folks like Shrum (well maybe not anymore) even tho they failed as candidate marketers. Why would anyone hire Shrum or his cronies again --- but they do. Connections? One giant clusterf**k? - its not like Shrum gets better deals for candidates (TV advertising rates are regulated).

GWB is our 43rd president for one main reason (other than Sandy Day OC) -- he was marketed right. There was never been a more empty suit running than this douche. If the current crop of dems dont change their marketing strategies -- and quickly (which you say they seem to be doing) -- we could end up with Mittens or Huckapoo

great post Jill