The team also includes relative political newcomers Jimmy Siegel and Danny Levinson, who are partners at the production company Moxie Pictures. (Siegel’s first political ads, which tend to be more cinematic and irreverent than traditional political spots, were shot for Eliot Spitzer when he was running for governor.)
So far, experts in the field have had positive things to say about their work.
“With Hillary it’s always very strategic and very well-timed,” said Ken Wheaton, who follows the marketing aspects of the presidential race as editor of the Campaign Trail blog at Ad Age.
The first ad, titled “Invisibles,” went up in Iowa in August and starts with surging violins playing while Mrs. Clinton, hands dug into the pockets of her blue suit jacket, walks across a field next to a farmer in a wide brimmed hat. It then cuts to her telling voters in a town hall setting how she hears from so many people across America who feel “invisible to their government.” We then see all those invisible people—factory workers, reading children, brawny soldiers—hugging Mrs. Clinton in different settings. A lone clarinet plays a nostalgic Aaron Copland-esque tune that accompanies her as she says Americans “may be invisible to this president, but they’re not invisible to me.”
The ad was basically designed to pick a fight with the Bush administration. By that measure, it was a success: the White House called it “outrageous” and “unconscionable.” Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly sought to seem above the fray of primary politics, and as a result, the inevitable nominee, by casting herself in direct conflict with President Bush and Vice President Cheney. (See her remarks at a Sept. 19 fund-raising event near Times Square, where Mrs. Clinton compared Mr. Cheney to Darth Vader.)
Mrs. Clinton’s second ad, “Ready for Change,” uses a narrator. Obviously geared toward a primary audience, the ad is meant to stave off the insurgence of Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards, who are both running on the premise that Mrs. Clinton is the personification of an old Washington system that need to be changed.
“That’s all poll-driven,” said Mr. Strother. “And I can promise you that they are very effectively and efficiently targeting whomever they decide is their targets.”
Or as Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran New York media consultant who worked on Bill Clinton’s reelection campaign with Mr. Penn, put it, “This is a unified image driven by Mark Penn’s data.”
For the past two weeks, Iowa viewers have also been watching Mrs. Clinton’s third ad, titled “Hillary’s Health Care Plan.” More folksy than the other two, it starts with piano music that sounds vaguely like the score of a Ken Burns Civil War documentary. Mrs. Clinton is shown comforting a girl in a hospital bed (an “Invisible” from the first ad), and then running down steps among a crowd of giddy children.
The narrator tells the viewer, “She changed our way of thinking when she introduced universal health care to America.”
So far, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign has limited its more creative spots to the Web, relying on free media publicity to disseminate their message to a broad audience.
Most famously, a hastily produced send-up of a Sopranos episode starring Hillary and Bill Clinton ended up on the front page of New York’s tabloids, and a Web-based contest to pick a campaign song drew favorable reviews for highlighting her easily missable sense of humor. (One of the choices Mrs. Clinton rejects is “Sexy Back.”)
Less talked-about Web-based experiments include video of Mrs. Clinton acting as a nurse for a day, in which she walks around a hospital in a pink apron, doing nursing chores and saying things like “Oh, that is so neat the way that works.” Without changing from her pink apron, Mrs. Clinton then goes to prepare and eat dinner at her mentor nurse’s house. She washes her hands at the sink and prays with her head bowed at the dinner table. She pours Thousand Island dressing on iceberg lettuce. “Your mother worked me to the bone today,” says Mrs. Clinton to the two unresponsive boys sitting across the table.
“The campaign is actively going out and using the Web to purse an agenda of humanizing Hillary Clinton,” said Ira Teinowitz, the Washington bureau chief for Ad Age.
So far, the lesson seems to be that there’s a market for everything the Clinton media shop is producing. Which probably ought to come as a surprise to precisely no one.
“It’s very hard to be too rich or too thin or have too much advertising,” said Mr. Tracey. “You’re always reaching somebody.”
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