carville, the morning after

Last month probably wasn’t the best time to be around James Carville, but GMO/Hill, Holliday managed to make the best of it.

The San Francisco shop had named a conference room after Carville—one of 42 in its new offices—and invited him to town to celebrate. Alas, the attack-dog Democrat and sometime advertising talent (Nike, ESPN, etc.) arrived the day after the U.S. Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush.

“He was in a bad mood but it was that ragin’ Cajun, funny bad mood,” says agency president Nancy Hill. “He wasn’t happy, but he made a lot of jokes about it.”

Unlike when George Stephanopoulos visited Long Haymes Carr a few summers ago, Carville wasn’t angling for a job. (He seems to prefer overseas work lately.) But he did speak eloquently about the role of advertising in politics and the importance of bringing passion to one’s work—and even touched on the court’s decision. “He couldn’t deliver his normal speech,” Hill says. “He said ad people are so cynical they would see right through it.”

Even the shop’s Republican guard, including founder Fred Goldberg, listened intently to the man whose shining marketing moments included getting Bill Clinton on MTV in 1992. “If you look at him as a marketer and a passionate person, you have to have respect for him,” Hill says. “And for God’s sake, he is married to a Republican.” Corbis/Bettmann