‘Body’ Politic

How did former professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura find his way to the Minnesota
governor’s mansion? Credit a strategy from Bill Hillsman of North Woods Advertising.
TV spots prepared with creative assistance from Minneapolis agency Kruskopf Olson (in which Hillsman is a partner) featured the “Jesse Ventura action figure.”
In one ad , children use the doll to turn down special-interest money, pound fists on desks and demand rewrites of laws that “waste taxpayers’ money.”
“He’s a larger-than-life candidate. It seemed appropriate that the advertising reflect that,” Hillsman said of the unusual nature of the campaign.
Focus shifted in a spot that aired just days before the election, with one that showed Ventura’s transition from “Body” to “Mind.” In the ad, Ventura sits in the pose of Rodin’s “Thinker.” Over operatic music, the spot articulated some of Ventura’s views. That ad was a turning point in convincing voters to take Ventura’s candidacy seriously, Hillsman said.
— Aaron Baar