Respecting The Stagecraft

by digby

Via Discourse, I found these neat Obama bumper stickers. This is a homegrown operation and lots of fun. Just like this one, which may be the best series of campaign posters ever. They are everywhere in my neighborhood.

But aside from all the great creativity bursting forth from supporters, one of the best things about the Obama campaign is its exceptional branding and graphics. So far, it's been more modern, more well thought out, more interesting than any I ever seen. I wrote about it a couple of months ago.

His campaign events have been extremely well produced as well, although you'll have to go a long way to beat Bush hovering over filled stadiums on Marine One at sunset to the strains of "Danger Zone" from Top Gun. (I thought the crowd was going to start speaking in tongues en masse --- led by the press.)

There is talk that Obama is going to give his nomination acceptance speech at Viagra Field at Mile High Stadium. (Oh, it's Invesco field, I'm sorry. I get those corporate names all confused.) Anyway, this could be very exciting television if done well.

There is nothing wrong with stagecraft, even if the Bush administration treated it as if it was the only thing that mattered. They had a very talented crew who kept the country and the media gaga for years:

First among equals is Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer who was hired by the Bush campaign in Austin, Tex., and who now works for Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director. Mr. Sforza created the White House ''message of the day'' backdrops and helped design the $250,000 set at the United States Central Command forward headquarters in Doha, Qatar, during the Iraq war.

Mr. Sforza works closely with Bob DeServi, a former NBC cameraman whom the Bush White House hired after seeing his work in the 2000 campaign. Mr. DeServi, whose title is associate director of communications for production, is considered a master at lighting. ''You want it, I'll heat it up and make a picture,'' he said early this week. Mr. DeServi helped produce one of Mr. Bush's largest events, a speech to a crowd in Revolution Square in Bucharest last November.

To stage the event, Mr. DeServi went so far as to rent Musco lights in Britain, which were then shipped across the English Channel and driven across Europe to Romania, where they lighted Mr. Bush and the giant stage across from the country's former Communist headquarters.

A third crucial player is Greg Jenkins, a former Fox News television producer in Washington who is now the director of presidential advance. Mr. Jenkins manages the small army of staff members and volunteers who move days ahead of Mr. Bush and his entourage to set up the staging of all White House events.

''We pay particular attention to not only what the president says but what the American people see,'' Mr. Bartlett said. ''Americans are leading busy lives, and sometimes they don't have the opportunity to read a story or listen to an entire broadcast. But if they can have an instant understanding of what the president is talking about by seeing 60 seconds of television, you accomplish your goals as communicators. So we take it seriously.''

Democrats should take it seriously too. There's no need to get stupid about it, as Skorza did with that prancing on the carrier absurdity. Substance should always take precedence. But we do live in a media world and we have a very attractive, media friendly leader who is extremely effective with words, which the right images can only enhance.

The Republicans have a legacy of terrible consequence. But they have been far more media savvy than Democrats for years, except for the brief moment of the 1992 convention. It was so well done that it galvanized the Democrats and the press and the campaign got a huge boost. Perot even (dropped out the next day saying the Democrats were "revitalized." (Of course the crazy old dude came back in later...)

I don't know who Obama has working for him on this stuff, but I hope he's tapping into the best talent from the arts as well as politics. The right speech in the right setting could reignite Obamamania into a roaring brushfire at just the right moment.