Rich Silverstein distills eight years of history into three posters.

Arianna Huffington of the Huffingtonpost asked Rich Silverstein of Goodby, Silverstein, and Partners fame if he might have some ideas on how to help the Democrats and Rich responded:

"Here is my thinking," Silverstein told me, "What if we could TiVo the last six-plus years and play them back - without comment -- for the American people, and let them connect the dots? It's not a pretty picture." Silverstein's take away message is uncluttered and direct: "Haven't we had enough? Democrats '08."

Three posters - "Names," "Events," and "Slogans" remind everyone what has been happening these past eight years.

Now, it looks like these posters will actually be used after all: "HuffPost's "The Bush Years" Posters: A Powerful Political Stocking Stuffer" but of course there's another take on it all with these Posters on the Democratic Party over at Michelle Malkin's blog. Looking at them, they lack skill, they don't work in the same way and often they reinforce the originals. This is why ad people like Rich are paid the big bucks, folks. ;)

Adland® is supported by your donations alone. You can help us out by buying us a Ko-Fi coffee.
Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
Files must be less than 1 MB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg gif png wav avi mpeg mpg mov rm flv wmv 3gp mp4 m4v.
Dabitch's picture

In the last link there, this chopper-image used frequently made me go "Hmmm?" I mean, I'm terrible at American History and I even I know off the top of my head that the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 was during the Ford presidency (1974-1977). And Ford was a Republican. Heck, that chopper and staircase is even on permanent display at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan according to the wiki. How can you be a Republican and not know that?

tod.brody's picture

Yes, Republicans don't care about the truth.  It's been part of their game plan since Jimmy Carter took office to try to convince the American public that Democrats are weak on defending America. If anyone actually thinks that America would have been any more vulnerable to terrorist attack if John Kerry had been elected President than with the idiot criminal currently in the White House, I have a bridge over the East River to sell them, and I'll give it to them cheap!!!!

Dabitch's picture

Or maybe dems were the majority in congress at the time? Still, kinda far-fetched.

tod.brody's picture

Well yes, the Democrats were in control of both houses of Congress throughout the Vietnam war, but one can't have it both ways.  Vietnam was not a declared war, and as such, even with the War Powers Act in '73, the President had control of troop levels.It's absurd though to suggest in an ad that the evacuation of Vietnam was "cut and run." Long before the evac of Saigon in '75, the American people wanted out of the war, and both parties wanted to find a way to get out.  It's just a stupid bad poster with no basis in fact or history, and that's my objection.  I'm sure there are examples of the liberal left distorting history to achieve their ends, but at the moment, none come to mind.  But I can think of plenty of right wing lies and distortions.  The Swift Boat Vets for "truth" in the last election come to mind. 

kidsleepy's picture

I'm not a republican by any stretch of the imagination, but I think we're oversimplifying everything.

At one point, the American people were against revolutionary war and The Civil War, too. Being anti-war isn't reserved of the latter half of the twentieth century. Neither is examining issues on the most superficial ways and using name-calling and personal attacks to try and win an argument.

ALSO I think you're overlooking the fact that regardless of what side you're on politically, those posters are nothing more than propaganda in the truest sense of the word. Is that something to be proud of?

And exactly how hard is it to make a poster like that? Haven't we seen bumper stickers ad nauseam like that for the past six years or so?

To me it's a bit like doing an Amnesty International or Peta ad at this point. Not very hard.

And art directionally speaking I feel like the stuff is pretty, (sorry) conservative. Black against white. Wow. The 1980's are back.

tod.brody's picture

I don't think I was oversimplifying anything.  We were talking about one poster, which used the evacuation of the embassy in Saigon to say that Democrats "cut and run" when in office.  We weren't talking about the history of American warfare, or how the American people felt about the Revolution or the Civil War, and I don't recall saying anything about the anti-war movement starting in the latter half of the 20th Century.. I find that entire line of thought to be an obtuse comparison just the same, however, since American politics and the American people in those periods bear no resemblance to the Vietnam era, or the current war in Iraq.It appears to me that the only name calling here is being done by you.  Unless you're chastising me for calling the President an "idiot criminal."  If that's the case, I stand guilty as charged.  He is both an idiot, and a criminal, and the only thing I feel badly about is that he's run the country into the ground and made us look like a bunch of lawless morons to the rest of the world.  Could the world view of us get any worse?

kidsleepy's picture

I'm sorry if you misunderstood my meaning.

My critique actually had nothing to do with you at all.

My point was that i thought the Huffington ads, (not the Saigon ad you referred to) were not that great in execution and like most political ads, were pure propaganda. And propaganda is propaganda however way you slice it and whether you agree with it or not.

And that during any war, there is always a dissenting opinion, and it is usually a justified one at that.

I didn't say that was a good or a bad thing. I was just stating an objective opinion.

i certainly wasn't taking you to task for yours, but I thank you for sharing it.

I was merely critiquing the ads in some sort of context.

tod.brody's picture

Thanks for clearing it up for me, and my apologies for the misunderstanding.  Your points are well taken.

Sport's picture

With "name calling" are you referring to the poster on the left which contains only names?

😇Kidding aside, the middle poster with the largest word KATRINA jumping out at me doesn't make me think of anti-war as much as anti-fuckups.

Dabitch's picture

Wow. The 1980's are back.

Ha! In the eighties they would have used FUTURA EXTRA BOLD CONDENSED instead of Helvetica Inserat. ;P

TDD's picture

I agree with Dabitch's point about the poster. It is nonsense, but it is emotional.

The image of the young girl running away burned and naked from a village in Vietnam after an air-strike is emotional, but few people know the truth behind the photo: the air-strike was not conducted by American aircraft, but by South Vietnam aircraft. The village was hit by mistake. Americans had nothing to do with it, but most people think the photo is of an intentional napalm air-strike against a Vietnam village by American planes.

The image of the South Vietnam colonel placing his handgun to the head of a prisoner, his hands bound behind his back, and pulling the trigger is horrific and chilling. Many think this was cold-blooded murder (it might have been), and a symbol of evil America in Vietnam, but few know the person shot had been arrested for a series of murders in the village, and was being executed for those crimes.

Those who oppose the annual seal hunt in Canada still use the image of the cute white seal pup even-though those pups have not been legally hunted for more than a decade.

My point is: powerful images are used because they get an emotional response from those who don't know the facts, or don't check the facts out. These people are the majority. The truth doesn't matter, only the intended response does. Of course, we already know all this.

Allan1's picture

Sidenote about the South Vietnamese Colonel shooting the Viet Cong prisoner - As indicated, the man had been captured because of multiple murders in the village - including the murder of members of the Colonel's family!

It is especially chilling to watch the film. The prisoner didn't really seem to expect the trigger to actually be pulled...

As to the image of the young girl running, burned - when I first saw it, I knew it was a mistake, and it upset me to think that weapons that we made (since we supplied them to South Vietnam) were stupidly being used against the innocent. I did not think it was big, bad America blowing the hell out of kids on purpose - in fact, more people at that time were likely to assume that the people (and the girl) were running from some massive conflagration created by the Viet Cong and/or North Vietnamese.

"Remember, no matter where you go... There you are." (Buckaroo Banzai).

Allan1's picture

Additional comments re: Powerful Images and Vietnam war:

Way back when, I worked with a nice guy who had been in 'Nam near the end of the war. He was about 6'5" tall (around 1.96 meters tall), and looked fairly strong. [I don't remember his name, but if I looked through some 30+ year old records, I might find a work phone listing for him].

At one point, his picture was taken, showing him in the doorway of a landing helicopter, wearing a long necklace of human ears. The guy had a mean expression on his face, and, as I said before, was fairly big. This image was shown all around the world, and seemed to show how brutal the USA's troops were becoming. (As I understand it, the movie Universal Soldier with Doplh Lundgren shows him wearing one - indicating his insanity).

When this guy got back to the states, he went to look up his fiancee (who had dumped him) and discovered that she had married. He went to her home, and her husband opened the door, looked at him, screamed -"It's the ear guy!" and slammed the door. The ex-fiancee did eventually step outside to talk with him, and all things ended as amicably as they could...

I've seen postings (not here) of people saying that no one ever had such a necklace, and anyone who says they did is a liar. I know this guy wasn't lying, because I knew the photo (I haven't been able to find it, though). [The necklace was nearly 8 feet long, and was not exclusively ears - there was a lot of spacing between].

The FULL background is that the Hmong, who fought alongside US soldiers, did have some 'warriors' who did create such necklaces. This guy fought along with the Hmong, and made some good friends. One of his Hmong friends had one of these necklaces, and as he lay dying in the helicopter, asked the American guy to take his necklace [I'm not sure what he wanted him to do with it - I think maybe give it to the dead Hmong's, relatives]. The American put the necklace on, and then Hmong died; the copter landed, and the visibly upset American was getting out of it - just in time to be photographed, apparently looking fierce and possibly insane. [He found out about the picture months and months later]. In reality, it was one of those poignant, sad moments that wartime often brings, and it was twisted to show how crazy the US soldiers were.

"Remember, no matter where you go... There you are." (Buckaroo Banzai).

Dabitch's picture

This is true, images are very powerful and therefore perfect for propaganda, and simple - even though they might be taken with a lot more backstory like you say people judge what they see. Like that woman and baby drowning from the Lusitania poster Luke mentions, it's simple and goes straight to the heart.

That's what makes these posters made by Rich interesting to me, they're the opposite. They're only words, in one case it's only names and it's not names like "Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Belsebub" but politicians in office right now and looking at comments elsewhere the posters seem to kick up quite an emotional response still. Particularly the phrases one seems to trigger emotional responses among people who know what each one stands for (I'll admit some of those flew past me, wtf is 'executive power' referring to?). I'm wondering though, if its only preaching to the converted.

You know, it would be kind interesting to see a hyperlinked version of these.

Allan1's picture


See this link for info about "Executive Power" -

(This article discusses how G.W. Bush has backed down from his - some would say over-reaching - use of Executive Power).

"Remember, no matter where you go... There you are." (Buckaroo Banzai).

tod.brody's picture

Yes, however, in the eleven months since that article was written, the President has used the theory of inherent powers not enumerated by the Constitution to justify the expanse of Executive Power beyond the actions of any of his predecessors.  I imagine that's what Silverstein was getting at in the Posters based on the placement of Executive Power. 

kidsleepy's picture

what i think though is that like most good advertising, or propaganda, or music or art, it is accomplishing it's goal. we're discussing it. debating stuff.

so on that end they work just fine.

and also I think it bodes well for us writers out there, even if the copy is more of a list that also works as a visual.

Dabitch's picture

True, we're discussing it - but if you check the hall of fame that Sirius satellite radio ad is whopping this one in number of views and that's a super adgrunt only thang. Many comments doesn't always mean many reached.

ost.macka's picture

yes, but that's probably because no one can resist dominos. Otherwise why would all these creative minds keep drawing water from the same well over and over and over!  

Dabitch's picture

Hahaha, touché.

Dabitch's picture

Dammit Allan1 I miss your so often extremely interesting comments. (she said, to the air itself).