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AARP Attacks Bush on Social Security

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NEW YORK The AARP this week unveiled a marketing campaign to support its effort to combat the Bush administration's Social Security proposals, the organization said.

The campaign, via Omnicom Group's GSD&M in Austin, Texas, includes a TV spot, as well as print and radio executions, according to agency representative Towne Redington.

Although ad spending was not given, the budget is close to $10 million, per a source. The client spends nearly $90 million annually on ads, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

The TV spot shows a woman in a suburban kitchen talking to a plumber about a blocked sink. "Only one way to fix it," the plumber says. "We're going to have to tear down the entire house." As the woman stands by looking shocked, the plumber gleefully wields a backhoe, jackhammer and a wrecking ball and, in an orgy of destruction, levels her home.

"If you had a problem with the kitchen sink, you wouldn't tear down the entire house," a voiceover intones. "So why dismantle Social Security when it can be fixed with just a few moderate changes?"

The strategy is to have the campaign motivate voters to contact their congressional representatives during the legislative recess, when pols typically meet with constituents, said John Killpack, director of brand management at the AARP.

On the sidelines sits AARP's avowed enemy, USA Next, an organization dedicated to attacking the AARP's massive lobbying strength on Capitol Hill.

In The New York Times on Sunday, March 13, USA Next chief Charlie Jarvis said his group was planning a campaign "in a few weeks" that would "very specifically and aggressively brand AARP for what they are, the planet's largest liberal lobbying organization." USA Next has already run ads alleging that the AARP supports gay marriage.

"We're debating Social Security. We don't know why they're debating [the motives of] the AARP," said Killpack.

Because the Social Security debate is shifting so rapidly, the shop had less than a week to create the TV ad. The house itself was built in a Los Angeles neighborhood slated for demolition as part of the expansion of L.A. Airport. Construction started on March 12 and was completed on March 15, Killpack said. The house was then destroyed for the shoot on March 16-17. The commercial debuted March 21.