1990 Campaign Ads
Don Sipple of Strategic Communications, a messaging and advertising firm, was the creative force behind both of Jim Edgar’s gubernatorial campaigns - 1990 and 1994. He wrote this when reflecting on creating the 1990 campaign ads.
“Jim Edgar was a very popular Secretary of State. From a strategic standpoint we were facing some headwinds: an off-year election with a GOP president; 14 years of Jim Thompson – including what was perceived as a high profile breaking of a campaign promise not to raise taxes – Illinois increasing tilting democrat, a popular Attorney General as the opponent.
Our strategy was to highlight and focus on the character and personal qualities of Jim Edgar and position him as the more trustworthy and capable governor for the future. Our slogan: Let the Future Begin. In focus groups in advance of the active stage of the campaign...one participant labeled the candidates this way. “Hartigan: affable mic...Edgar: natty dresser” It got me thinking that Jim Edgar’s appearance—clean cut; well groomed; nicely dressed, had the look of a ‘country club republican,’ far from the reality of his upbringing and life experience. Traditional “bio” ads wouldn’t work, so I thought of a different approach to tell the voters of Illinois a lot about Jim Edgar in a much more interesting way; thus the Homecoming spot. We set up a picnic in Charleston with the express purpose of providing the setting and cast for me to film the commercial. Classic cinema verite with a big editing job at the back end. We did a 90 second version for downstate and a 60 second spot for the Chicago market. The ad ran at low levels over a ten week period in the summer of 1990. It is probably my all time favorite ad that I ever produced. The late David Broder—who was someone I knew for 30 years—who was going door to door talking to voters in the fall of ’90, told me after Edgar’s razor thin victory that voters would tell him specific info from that ad when citing the reasons they were voting for Edgar.”
The several ads with Professor Irwin Corey of Smothers Brothers fame were fun to make but only the business ad aired, and only a few times.