A Republican adman unveiled a new public relations campaign this week to soften the image of the Grand Old Party using the guiding slogan “Republicans Are People, Too.” The promotional push came complete with a highly produced video, a website and social media efforts.
The project is the brainchild of Vinny Minchillo, a Mitt Romney presidential campaign veteran who helped produce ads for the White House candidate in 2012. The positive, feel-good campaign, Minchillo said, is meant to “let people know that it’s OK to be a Republican,” in a world in which he feels it has become “socially acceptable to say bad things about Republicans.”
That slogan, however, might sound familiar to some of the party’s greybeards. In 1974, when the heavily damaged GOP brand was reeling from the Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon, the Republican National Committee launched its own “Republicans Are People Too” initiative in an attempt to recast the party before a skeptical public.
Here’s how Craig Shirley, a longtime political consultant and Ronald Reagan biographer, put it in his book Reagan's Revolution:
And here’s one of the buttons:
"It was the wail of pathetic losers," Shirley told Yahoo News.
The echo is a pure coincidence, Minchillo said when contacted by Yahoo News, adding that he had no idea about the 40-year-old campaign with the same tagline.
“That’s a little before my time. I’ll have to go back and take a look at it,” Minchillo said in a phone interview. “That’s really funny. Those were some pretty dark times for Republicans for sure.”
Minchillo, now an executive at the consulting firm Glass House Strategies, said he came up with the idea after seeing Republicans treated poorly, particularly on the Web.
“A big part of the idea is from my life experience as a Republican online. I’ve been called a lot of really bad things,” he said. “It seems like it has become socially acceptable to say bad things about Republicans.”
He added that he hopes the video will help encourage voter registration and encourage Republicans.
“I’ve heard from a lot of campaigns who say it’s a breath of fresh air, especially this time of year,” he said. “If you’re in a competitive state it’s just one negative ad after another.”
Emails to three spokesmen from the Republican National Committee — none of whom were old enough to have been politically active in 1974 — asking for their thoughts on the reemergence of the old RNC slogan were not returned.