Political ad guru and local resident Fred Davis said he prefers watching the GOP convention in Cleveland from the comfort of his home in Santa Barbara, surrounded by a mounted moose and full-size preserved lions, rather than in person.
And no, he is not a big game hunter. At least, not the conventional type.
“It’s going to be an insanely crazy, interesting convention,” Davis said. “I can’t wait to watch it. I just didn’t want to be there!”
Davis is an expert in “insanely crazy” and “interesting.” After all, he’s the head of Strategic Perception Inc., a world renown, award winning advertising firm based in Hollywood and was the creative force behind presidential races at past conventions. Davis also admits, he endured pepper spray as a young teen during the GOP convention in Miami in 1968.
“Here’s what happens: you have this huge show … you don’t have any time to prepare,” Davis said. “You have to design a set, build a set, ship a set, fill in who’s going to speak, what kind of visuals you’re going to have.” Davis adds, that includes the production of 135 videos across the country.
Davis was behind John Kasich’s presidential race as well as John McCain’s back in 2008. The L.A. ad titan is known for his bizarre use of animals and fightin’ words or memorable one-liners in the creation of his political ads.
“My company is renown for shock value,” David said. “We’re renown for doing things a little bit different.”
Demonizing sheep in a campaign commercial that aired against Tom Campbell went viral. For other clients, a more subtle approach came in the form of a simple one-liner, as was the case for Justin Fareed.
“Just a little line at the end, ‘We’ll talk more later,’ some of those things aren’t like political ads. The goal there is to get you to remember those and talk to them and go to work and say, ‘Hey, did you see that ad that has that weird line at the end?'” Davis said. “It’s just advertising 101. You want people to notice your ads … There’s very little difference between selling a beer and selling a politician. You have to get their attention first and then you have to tell them something good about the product. Pretty simple.”
Davis makes no qualms about revealing his candidate of choice.
“I will vote for Donald Trump,” Davis said. I think he has done an incredible job bringing new people to the party.”
If Americans want the status quo, Davis recommends the former First Lady.
“Everybody knows who Hillary Clinton — she’s been around forever,” Davis said. “She is not going to change much. In a way, that’s her advantage. She’s stable, you know what you’re going to get. People right now hate Congress and they don’t like the presidency and they don’t like anything that happens in Washington. Trump’s advantage is that he is this wild man and he’s new, fresh, different, all those things.”
Right now, Davis puts the presidential election outcome at 50/50 and offers up this advice to Hillary and The Donald.
“He needs to moderate as much as he can,” Davis said. “And Hillary needs to excite as much as she can. And the extent to which both of these do that I think will show which one comes out. There’s always a winner and a loser in the conventions.”
Davis is quick to say that no matter the outcome in November, “America always lands on her feet.”