Saturday, August 18, 2007

direct mail diagnosis

Yesterday, I got a few interesting pieces of mail, mailers from Keith Christensen and Ralph Becker (as well as my diploma). What a contrast in styles.

Both were the same size (~10x5)when they arrived, but Ralph's was thin colored paper that was actually folded in half. Keith went for the heavier card stock with half the surface area as Becker's.

Ralph's front page headline "Salt Lake City Democrats like Christine Johnson & Scott McCoy support Ralph Becker for Mayor" (with photos of both standing shoulder to shoulder with Ralph. This is a great way to say "Democrat" as soon as possible without sounding too strained (i.e. not "Democrats like Christine Johnson and Scott McCoy...") It is a not to subtle hint that Becker is also a Democrat.

Keith opts for another I-can-ride-a-nice-bicycle-in-my-campaign-jersey motif. This time with what I assume is his family also riding near by. The tag line? "Fighting crime starts at the street level." Get it, he is riding on the street so he must somehow be fighting crime by wearing that cool jersey and expensive road bike. In smaller print, his campaign "explains" that "Solid leadership and vision can be deterrents to crime." Really? I thought strict enforcement, harsh penalties, strong communities, and good economic conditions deter crime. I have trouble imagining a would be criminal saying/thinking "I would rob that bank, but Mayor Christensen's strong leadership and vision make me think twice."

While neither mailing has any real policy stuff on it, Keith is pretending to give policy-based reasons for voting for him. Ralph opts for the more crass (but possibly more effective) "Ralph Becker is a Democrat. Other big-name Democrats and liberals support him, so you should too."

So let's go to Keith's backside and Ralph's inside (I will get to Ralph's back in a bit). Keith will keep us SLCers safe by "insit[ing] that our police and fire fighters have the tools, technology and facilities needed to protect all our citizens." Who except Dennis Kucinich wouldn't do that as mayor? His campaign promised me details, so here goes. "Keith knows we can only attract the highest quality [first responders] to serve our community by offering them competitive salaries, improved training opportunities, and the most cutting-edge technology." But guess what? Firefighter's (via their local union) have endorsed Jenny Wilson.

What kind of technology? Haz-Mat suits? Computer programs to get at fire risk? Compstat-style software to target crime-ridden neighborhoods? What kind of training opportunities don't our police fire and EMTs not have currently?

Public safety will be his top budget priority, and apparently the City's budget is $660M...that is about all I learned here. For a "I would be a good wonky mayor" he doesn't have much specifics, nor does he point to where one might find specifics.

On Ralph's inside, we see more of the same "These Salt Lake Democrats are voting for Ralph Becker because they know he'll stand up and fight for Salt Lake City values." And there is a list of all his endorsements and a brief bio. I dislike this sentence. It plays into the right-wing use of the word "values" as in LaVar Christensen's claim that a vote for Jim Matheson was a vote for "San Francisco values." And also, I am really sick of the word "fight" in Democratic sloganeering. It is straight out of the Bob Schrum playbook, who is 0-8 in presidential campaigns. "[S]tand up" is good, but I would prefer to connote the idea of being tough and sticking up for our city. How about "...they know he won't back down against anyone who want to harm our city." And then you can talk about leading the fight against vouchers, and for ethics, and for making and keeping SLC "green."

Ralph has a fake clipboard which gives a rundown of the bullet point vagaries of his plans for the city, but then points readers to the details on his website and gives people a number (if they are old and afraid of the InterTubes). It even includes a friendly reminder about when election day is.

Now for the back of the mailer. It has a still from the cartoon "Blueprint man" that Ralph's campaign put on YouTube and even has the temerity to ask for money, a lawn sign placement, or volunteers.

Overall, here are my grades: Keith's second mailer: C+(still too vague if you are running on competence and policy-know-how), Ralph's: B+ (maybe too much stuff on there to distract, but good use endorsements by the only gay and lesbian legislators to show how liberal of a Democrat you are).

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