Political ad maker Fred Davis is back at it. The Republican adman, with an eye for the unusual and a penchant for the outlandish, has produced a Web video casting the opponents of a Senate candidate from Georgia as crying babies.
There they are, in diapers with shirts spelling out their first names: Karen Handel, wearing pearls; Rep. Jack Kingston, holding glasses; and doctors (and congressmen) Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, with stethoscopes. The scene comes about midway through a five-minute ad for Dave Perdue, who is running against those four for the GOP Senate nomination.
The video is just Davis’s latest entry in the category of offbeat political ads that have, over the last two decades, featured convicts in pink tutus, “demon sheep,” a giant rat stomping across Georgia, Christine O’Donnell’s infamous claim that “I’m not a witch,” and an Asian actress speaking broken English in a 2012 Michigan ad that was attacked as racist.
He was also the architect of John McCain’s 2008 ad casting Barack Obama as a celebrity, splicing him between photos of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
“If I picked what’s on my tombstone,” Davis says on his website, “it would be: ‘If you don’t notice it, why bother?’ “
Davis gets noticed — and many of his candidates get elected. But he is also coming off the most trying election cycle of his career — mostly for an ad that never aired. The New York Times reported in May 2012 that Davis had pitched a wealthy Republican to fund a campaign tying Obama to controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright and then suggested hiring a black spokesman to cast Obama as a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”
The denunciations and charges of racism were swift, especially after the earlier controversial Michigan ad. It was hurtful, Davis told the Los Angeles Times. “All men created equal, and that’s how I see the world,” Davis told the paper.
Here is a collection of some of Davis’ best-known political ads: