The Winning! Case Files series will highlight spectacular direct mail and other campaign multimedia from local elections – Congressional on down to Dog Catcher. Hopefully we inspire others to create their own Winning! Case Files.
The Contenders: Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez
& State Assemblyman Van Tran
Political Consultants: Axiom Strategies
Awards Won: 2011 Pollie Award – Silver, Category: U.S. House – Republican – General Election
The Sender: Van Tran for Congress
Background: From The Daily Collegian:
“The odor is garbage-like. It is almost as if Tran’s campaign against the current congresswoman, Democrat Loretta Sanchez, is just trying to say that she simply “stinks” in office.”
Why We Like It: It’s bold. It’s creative. It tears into the heart of the 2010 elections; the distrust of Washington. It looks (and smells) like something Don Draper would have dared to imagine, and then made. Besides its obvious messaging, what is particularly attractive about this mailer is that is so different from the mailers of conventional campaigns. It allows somebody to think out of the box, while they’re still in the box. While it does seem a bit childish, the simplicity of its message is easy to remember, Loretta Sanchez stinks. And sometimes, a mailer is better than the candidate’s chances of winning.
Here’s the breakdown:
Issue - The current Congresswoman, Loretta Sanchez, has become a part of the disliked establishment in Washington D.C.
The Bad Guy/Gal- The incumbent Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez
Achilles Heel- Sanchez’s time in the Capitol has made her an institutional part of it, separating her from all of the district’s constituents. This is especially damning at a time when anti-Washington fervor was/is at an all-time high. The piece brought in the sense of smell (in this case, a bad odor) to heighten voters’ dislike of Washington.
Backlash?- Some thought the mailer was offensive not only to Sanchez and her supporters, but to women in general.
Summary- Curiosity is a very strong motivator. Who doesn’t want to have a whiff of all the perfume ads in newspapers and magazines? By utilizing the sense of smell, the mailer does a good job of making voter’s distrust of Washington much more tangible. They are already prone to believe it, but now it is right there, in front of them. It’s like a piece of Washington came home to them. The mailer tries to undermine her credibility by linking her to the smell of Washington, which has rubbed off on her.
Bottom Line: Washington stinks. Congresswoman smells like Washington. Don’t vote for her.
Results: The Republican sweep ended at California’s borders, and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez won an 8th term in Congress.
About the Author In early 2010, Ed began working as an intern for the Orange County Republican Party in California. Ed continued his work until May 2010, when the California Republican Party hired him to manage the Orange County Voter Registration Program. Ed is currently a private first class in the U.S. Army Reserves, and a student at Fullerton College. Read more from this author