Gay NYC Pol Partners Up in Ad Store Spot

NEW YORK Springboarding off its titillating “wardrobe malfunction” parody for Super Bowl advertiser, The Ad Store has followed up with a spot for Manhattan borough presidential candidate Brian Ellner in which the openly gay politician appears with his partner.

“Brian was looking for an agency that could be smart and create something provocative,” said Tim Arnold, managing partner at The Ad Store in New York.

Ellner hired the shop on a project basis a little over two weeks ago. The spot breaks tonight and will run all week on NY1 and local buys on CNN, Oxygen, WE and Lifetime cable networks.

The ad opens with a super close-up photograph of President George W. Bush while Ellner intones, “He says he promotes life, but sends our soldiers to die.” The scene then pans back with the flash of a camera, and Ellner says, “He promises to leave no child behind, but won’t fund our public schools.” The camera pans back once more, revealing George W. Bush’s head spliced onto the photo of a naked body before Ellner says, “New Yorkers know the emperor has no clothes.”

Ellner, 35, introduces himself by saying he will stand up for Manhattan’s progressive values. “The fight starts here,” according to the Stuyvesant Town-raised Ellner, who goes on to say New Yorkers “tell you how we feel. We don’t make apologies for what we believe and we’re not afraid of a fight.” Ellner then reintroduces himself, putting his arm around the shoulders of another man he calls “my partner Simon.” The ad is tagged, “Vote Brian Ellner and make New York proud.”

When Ellner approached The Ad Store, he knew he wanted his partner to appear in the ads, said agency CEO Paul Cappelli.

“His logic, I think, was sound,” said Arnold. “With nine Democratic candidates, name awareness carries a lot of weight.” The agency sought to associate his lifestyle with honesty, courage, candor and self-confidence, but also wanted the ad to communicate more than his sexual orientation, said Arnold.

“We helped him come up with something that had a little more bite to it at the front as well,” said Cappelli. President Bush, Cappelli reasoned, would be a “good lightning rod for New Yorkers.” The original script called for a line about Bush opposing gay marriage, but it was cut for time and because even in New York the issue is not deemed as urgent as the war in Iraq and education, Cappelli said.

The ad falls in line with Cappelli’s own philosophy about advertising: “I do believe that advertising should get noticed without pissing off too many people. The most powerful ideas are sometimes polarizing, but you can run them less frequently and get people to talk about them.”