I'm Mark Hufford, the NC Democratic Party's Western Political Director (and part of the DNC's 50-state strategy).
I'm not a big blogger, but am a frequent reader of BlueNC. Rather than simply replying to yesterday's string about our "BurmaShave"-style branding campaign I thought you'd appreciate hearing a little about it from the horse's mouth (which I guess makes me the horse). Importantly, we also need your help!
As mentioned, the branding effort came out of a group called the Western Task Force -- activists from around the West who examined the entire infrastructure and operations of the Party in our 33 Western counties. One subcommittee, led by Paul Donahue of Henderson County, looked at how Democrats are perceived here and what we could do about it, in an affordable way.
And the short answer is, we're perceived as spineless, wimpy complainers who don't stand for anything.
Of course the facts show just the opposite -- that Democrats here and elsewhere over the last century created programs that lift people up and make possible the hope and opportunity that America is all about. Western NC Democrats for the most part are deeply spiritual, are committed to standing up for the least among us, and would give the shirt off their back to a neighbor in need.
But we forgot to market ourselves -- to support our Democratic "brand" with repeated messages about what we do and why we do it. And our support has eroded, especially among certain demographic groups.
To change this trend we need to speak out as Democrats in every way we can -- to remind poeple what makes us Democrats. In an age where communications are increasingly impersonal, we need to "brand" ourselves one-on-one in conversations with neighbors and friends. And we need to find ways to get our message out affordably, in ways that get attention.
There are many reasons we chose the roadside sign campaign, but the nostalgic feel of the signs is a part I really like. It reminds voters of the successful legacy Democrats created in the heyday of BurmaShave -- those "Happy Motoring" days of the '30s, '40s, '50s, and '60s.
BlueNC's DramaQueen wrote most of the jingles we're using, but we need the literary talents of other bloggers to write letters to the editor to support this messaging/branding campaign. This could add tremendously to its overall impact. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll fill you in on how you can help.
The signs are meant for rural areas where people are driving between 20 and 40, and are intended to be placed on private property in visible locations. If you have a good location in a county West of I-77, email me and I'll connect you with the right person.
I appreciate the comments folks made yesterday. Please rest assured that tweaks continue to be made to this pilot project. It's a project we can all have fun with. In Iredell County, I've heard that one of our activists is now putting roofing tar all over the frame of his signs to address the possibility of vandalism.
In his case, the message is sure to stick in more ways than one. With the help of you wordsmiths, the images of what Democrats stand for will also stick in people's minds.