Print Politics

POLITICAL DIRECT MAIL IS STILL A MONSTER!

Print Politics 08.05.2014
POLITICAL DIRECT MAIL IS STILL A MONSTER!

It's that time of the year when the perpetual act of political campaigning pushes into hyper-drive in advance of the fall elections, so that means Hotcards must again do its part in cheerleading the process. Like virtually any printing business, we're up to our ears in direct mail pieces and lawn signs this time of the year, and naturally we have our favorite mediums. In fact, we'll go out on a limb and state that we think direct mail pieces are the most sensible thing a candidate can employ. And employ often! That's our suggestion anyway. Now, it does depend on how much attention is paid to creation of the thing. A slothfully-created, black and white piece of campaign literature isn't gonna sway anyone but the candidate's mother. But a well-put-together, four color piece which at least takes a stab at persuasion is more than likely to be a home run. It may be a two run homer when the […]

Print Politics: Huge Ad Spend in California Gubernatorial Race

Print Politics: Huge Ad Spend in California Gubernatorial Race

The flyers are flying! The mailers are mailing! The posters are posting! After two glorious, rock 'em sock 'em terms with the Terminator, California is looking for a new governor. And at a time when the state is as hard-hit by the recession as anywhere in the world, candidates vying for a spot in November's gubernatorial elections aren't sparing a dime on campaign spending. Under particular scrutiny, Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO turned politico. She's running for a chance at the Republican candidacy, and so far, her campaign has spent almost $60 million ($49 mil of it Whitman's own) blanketing the airwaves in commercials and the streets in political printing. She's pulled ahead of Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican rival Steve Poizner in the polls, but at a cost that makes this the most expensive nonpresidential campaign in U.S. history. The Whitman campaign has been distributing a series of direct mail pieces slamming Steve Poizner, accompanied by a URL to […]

Obama Billboard Raises Issue of Advertising Ethics

Obama Billboard Raises Issue of Advertising Ethics

Should political figures be fashion models? We don't do a lot of controversial printing at Hotcards. Most of our customers, like the majority of print advertisers, don't go in for attaching their names to something scandalous. Edgy? Sure. But scandalous? Rarely. Academically speaking, however, it's always interesting to consider the moral and ethical implications of a print design. This week, the whole country is talking about the huge Barack Obama billboard in Times Square. A political campaign ad? Nope! It's an ad for Weatherproof Garment Company, featuring a huge image of Obama in a Weatherproof jacket, next to the slogan, "A Leader in Style." The image, depicting Obama in front of the Great Wall of China, was bought from the Associated Press by Weatherproof, who were supposed to get the appropriate permissions to use the image, but apparently didn't think to check in with the Obama administration. The print ad hadn't been up a day before the White House was […]

In 2010, the Democracy of Print Remains Vital

In 2010, the Democracy of Print Remains Vital

And the internet can help, too, I guess… Often, printing and information technology are pitted against each other as enemies. Isn't printing being murdered by the internet? Isn't the internet destroying information quality? But print and the web aren't enemies. In fact, they're natural friends, and a recent talk given by Carl Malamud reminded me of just that. Malamud is a public domain advocate, known as “the rogue librarian.” In a speech at the Government 2.0 Summit in Washington this past September, he spoke about the history of the U.S. Government Printing Office. The speech focused on how essential printing and public record were to the development of the U.S. democratic system. Today, Malamud says, we can continue to allow the democratic process to evolve by using the internet to do the same thing that printing has done over the last century or so – increase access to government, to legal process, to regulatory bodies, and hence, to the average […]

Printing Tips From Your Political Representatives

Printing Tips From Your Political Representatives

Space-saving is for non-winners. Ever since the big bailout made our governing body famous for printing money, inquiring minds have been turning to Washington for printing tips. How shall we print? Why shall we print? What is best to print? Gawker reports that in recent days, opponents of the health care bill have been bringing copies of the bill to debates printed single-sided, and in an extra-large font. These printing choices are made to visually demonstrate how epically huge the health care bill is, and what a majorly big overhaul it would be for the entire country. Of course, the flipside of the story is that supporters of the bill could print it double-sided, in a tiny font, on a page with no margins, to give the impression that it was a small document, and hence, any changes would be relatively innocuous. Political printing's lesson of the day? Size does matter. If you want to make a big impact, create […]

Print News Bailout Talk

Print News Bailout Talk

But what about the free press? Yesterday, President Obama said that as a “big newspaper junkie” he would be happy to look at proposals from Congress in support of a bailout for print news. This could come in one of several forms, anything from funding strategies to monetize online news, to allowing papers to restructure as nonprofits. It's easy to guess where Obama is coming from with this freshly expressed support. As I mentioned in a post last week, the sheer flood of opinion online over the health care question has created such a glut of conflicting information that reaching a consensus seems to have become almost impossible. Surely this must cause the President to hearken back to a simpler time when print news offered the public no more than a handful of conflicting editorialized opinions to choose from. Oh for the days. A print media bailout is interesting news for the entire print industry. On the one hand, it's […]

How Print Advertising Could Help the Health Care Debate

How Print Advertising Could Help the Health Care Debate

There is such thing as too much information. In a recent video for Time.com, Ze Frank said that we're not having a health care reform debate, we're having a health care argument. And what happens in an argument? Upset people say a lot of different things, many of which are untrue, half-true, or contradictory. More and more, it seems that the average person is feeling overwhelmed by the issue of health care reform. So much conflicting information is zipping around out there that people don't know what to believe, and more than that, they're not sure what the point was to begin with. A recent article on AdAge pointed to the crux of the problem – the White House is trying to sell a product – health care reform – unfortunately, the team that made the Obama brand so strong in 2008 is now doing a terrible job advertising this latest offering. Marketing 101: nobody's going to buy if they […]

The Politics of Un-Design

The Politics of Un-Design

Does the border signage controversy risks destabilizing our national brand? It's not always election campaign season, but that doesn't mean that printing and graphic design ever stop being political. One of the single biggest challenges any creative team faces in today's communications climate is how to produce collateral – in print, online or anywhere else – that's going to make everyone absolutely happy. Over the last couple of years, it's become abundantly clear that an overly in-your-face print ad, or an ill-conceived package redesign, can cause the kind of upheaval online – on blogs and in forums – that can damage a brand severely. And even when a brand responds to criticism, and changes or apologizes for a controversial campaign, let's face it, you can't make a design decision disappear. A very big example of this causing a stir in the design community right now is the dismantling of a piece of federal graphic design. A Canada-U.S. border crossing station […]

Obama Joker Poster Printing Controversy

Obama Joker Poster Printing Controversy

Why so serious? It's a rare enough thing for a poster to make news. During the presidential election campaign, Shepard Fairey's HOPE poster became a pretty big deal, as did a herd of spin-off poster printing. Now, months later, another Obama-inspired poster is taking L.A. by storm, and hitting the national news. All summer, an anonymous artist has been pasting a kinda-grusome spoof poster up around the Los Angeles area, of President Obama in Heath Ledger-style Joker makeup, labeled with the tag “Socialism.” The poster has become, for many, one of the key icons of this summer's debate over health care reform. And more than that, it's been called both a racially charged image, and conversely, an obviously-not-race-focused, tongue-in-cheek political statement. What do you think, blog readers? What does this summer's big poster printing scandal mean? Who is it helping? Who is it hurting? And why is it standing out as so reactionary amongst the host of politically satirical printing […]

Ridiculously Aggressive Tax Day Tea Bag Protest Signs

Ridiculously Aggressive Tax Day Tea Bag Protest Signs

Usually we're big supporters of signage… …but some of this stuff makes me wonder what people are thinking. This week, amid Tax Day fervor, protests against tax hikes and the stimulus plan, inspired by The Boston Tea Party, have been sweeping the nation. Literally HUNDREDS of people have been congregating in various states, waving signs and engaging in collective bursts of teabagging. Which sounds hilarious, I know, but mostly seems to involve flinging bags of Lipton into giant vats of water. And in truth, the tone of the protests has been distinctly un-funny. Many of the signs and posters on display today have a grim, and often, aggressive tone. I'm not going to put any pictures up here, or list any of the slogans, but check this page on the Huffington post for a detailed gallery if you want to see for yourself. Interestingly, these protests seem to feature mostly handmade and desktop printed signs, with very little professional full […]

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