NPR Debate Program Takes Anti-Blowhard Appoach to Branding

By Kiran Aditham 

While the boob tube is inundated with decibel-raising pundits from left, right and somewhere in between nowadays, a political/news debate program called Intelligence Squared US is taking a somewhat subtler approach for its new brand awareness campaign.

Despite its pretty tacky name, the NPR-distributed program is placing some halfway decent ads like the one above in Newsweek and sites like and that feature the tagline “Think Twice.”


The ads, which the New York Times reports were created by a shadowy group of moonlighting agency execs called the Treehouse Collective, seemingly reflect Intelligence Squared US’ goal of encouraging “recognition that the opposing side has intellectually respectable views.” Robert Rosenkranz, founder of IQ2US’ parent company the Rosenkranz Foundation, in fact tells the NYT that the program’s premise is such that the audience “is not exposed to pure punditry and sound bites, where they can hear the flesh of an argument in an interesting venue with a good moderator and make their own decisions.”

Sounds hopelessly optimistic IMO, but the program is nevertheless targeting a younger demo with the ads as well as partnerships with the aforementioned Newsweek and Bloomberg TV, which will be broadcasting the show several days a week.

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