By: Gary Tilzer
The city comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, is kicking off his first television ad campaign this week, marking the beginning of a new, intense, and expensive phase of the race eight weeks out from the June 22 primary that is likely to determine the next mayor of New York.
The first phase of the most important mayoral campaign in our lifetime did nothing to help the public find a new mayor who can reverse the economic destruction caused by COVERT to the city. Phase one of the campaign consisted mostly of candidates taking selfies with supporters around the city for twitter and Facebook and zoom calls. The zoom calls often had several candidates speaking to special interest insider groups, were not debates, but talking point discussion written to gain the support of the group hosting the call, written by the candidate’s public relations consultants.
So far, we know the candidates want more money for bike lanes, animal rights and everything else, but they do not explain where the city which is suffering the worse fiscal crisis since the depression, will get the funding. The voters have no idea which of the candidates will better manage or fix the city’s long-term problems like homelessness or the new ones like 40% of the city’s businesses closed permanently, because they are not discussed beyond the candidate promising to fix all the city’s problems. There has been no vetting by debates or by journalists of any of these candidates’ promises or plans.
As the TV phase of the campaign now begins more New Yorkers will be exposed to the better funded mayoral candidates as their TVs, Phones and Computers will be bombarded with campaign ads, but those commercials will still be talking points written by campaign consultants. However if the past is prolog those TV ads, if done right. could be enough to elect the next mayor.
In 1977 the Brilliant TV commercials created by media genius the late David Garth were enough to elect Ed Koch as mayor. Mario M. Cuomo was running for mayor against Mr. Garth’s come-from-behind creation, Edward I. Koch, Mr. Cuomo sardonically demanded: “What hath Garth wrought?” Koch often said he would never have been elected mayor without Garth’s commercials. He was 10 points behind before Garth started his commercials.
The late Roger Ailes, former Fox News president and political consultant himself, said “Garth was a political guy who learned how to use television rather than a television guy who learned politics,” Mr. Ailes said. “Nobody knew New York better. Years after his lost to Koch, Mario Cuomo would recruit Mr. Garth for one of his own campaigns for governor, which he won. So did Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg who both became mayors of NYC.
In 1977 New York City also faced a fiscal crisis, like it does today. The city was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, unable to borrow money on its own credit. Crime was on the rise and a blackout led to looting in many neighborhoods.
In a crowded field of seven candidates. Koch stood out by using television advertisements to attack the status quo and municipal unions, including the UFT (for students not learning) and PBA (for lack of patrol officers available) which he claimed have become too powerful. In the 2021 mayoral commercial so far have been, I have the experience; trust me I am the one to fix the city’s problems. These commercials are being written by lobbyists consultants make tens of thousands of dollars.
In one of Garth’s 1977 commercial for Koch former Miss America Bess Myerson who Garth had campaigned all over the city with the single mayoral candidate, said “Koch has proven in a diverse city like NY that you do not have to be fuzzy on the issues to win broad public support.” Congressman Herman Badillo, said “Koch has proven that you do not have to compromise your positions to win broad public support.” Koch’s tag line in many of the commercials was “To bring people together you don’t have to tell them what they want to hear, you need to tell them what they need to know. Garth’s Ads for Koch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUPdRU-xSyc
Mr. Garth was renowned for elevating virtual unknowns into upset victors, beginning with Representative John V. Lindsay in his race for mayor of New York in 1965. Mr. Garth orchestrated New York’s first television-based campaign on Mr. Lindsay’s behalf, taking advantage of his client’s good looks. In 1969, when Mr. Lindsay’s re-election seemed like a lost cause, Mr. Garth persuaded the mayor to admit publicly that he had made mistakes performing the “second toughest job in America.” (Mr. Lindsay began: “I guessed wrong on the weather before the city’s biggest snowfall last winter, and that was a mistake. But I put 6,000 more cops on the streets, and that was no mistake.” He was persuasive enough to win. Lindsay’s TV Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ku9_ChEoxU
Comptroller Stringer first TV ad talks mostly about his experience as a tenant organizer, in the Assembly and as a comptroller. Stringer TV Ad Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntgtXE9mU_4&t=3s
Ray McGuire TV Ad describes his bio but offers a plan to restore NYC on his website. His tag line is a mayor for the greatest comeback. Ray McGuire’s TV Video: Ray McGuire for Mayor | New 60 second TV Ad – YouTube
Shaun Donovan’s tv commercial has President Obama and others talking about his experience. Donovan says he is the change candidate with the most experience. Donovan tag line: We need a mayor to rebuild better safer and stronger. Donovan’s TV Video: Experience | Shaun for NYC – YouTube
Shaun Donovan, the former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and Raymond J. McGuire, a former Citigroup executive — have already been advertising on television, Mr. Stringer’s new buy will be the most significant on-air expenditure of any of the top-polling candidates to date. Three other candidates for mayor are expected to soon begin running major TV ad campaigns, businessman and former presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams and former de Blasio legal advisor Maya Wiley. Former Sanitation Commission Kathryn Garcia and nonprofit executive Dianne Morales are both expected to have TV ads. If any of these candidates’ ads click with the public, they can be elected the next mayor.