INSIDE THE BELTWAY: Media consultants strike gold in this year's election ... well some of them do anyway

The big winners in this year's endless election are the TV stations and media consultants that have pocketed enormous sums from the flood of political advertising, which could top dollars 1 billion when all is said and done.

The big winners in this year's endless election are the TV stations and media consultants that have pocketed enormous sums from the flood of political advertising, which could top dollars 1 billion when all is said and done.

The big winners in this year's endless election are the TV stations and media consultants that have pocketed enormous sums from the flood of political advertising, which could top dollars 1 billion when all is said and done.

But quantity doesn't necessarily mean quality, and there were just as many bad and ineffective ads as good ones during this political season.

Take the New York Senate race, for example, where Senator-elect Hillary Clinton and her vanquished rival, Rick Lazio, were as familiar to television viewers as Gap khakis.

The difference is that Clinton struck the right note from the moment Lazio jumped into the race. Created by longtime adviser Mandy Grunwald and the advertising agency DeVito/Verdi, Clinton's first ads effectively planted seeds of doubt about Lazio's moderate credentials. The spots mimicked an old typewriter, punching white words across a black screen that questioned Lazio's commitment to health care and hate crimes legislation.

'The more you know, the more you wonder,' claimed the short but effective spots, setting the tone for a successful media campaign.

By contrast, Lazio never really found his footing on the TV screen, despite a financial edge. Produced by GOP ad guru Mike Murphy of The Murphy Pintak Gautier Hudome Agency, a Lazio spot called 'Point' that aired in the campaign's final days illustrated the problem: it showed black-and-white footage of Clinton making a speech to scary music. 'Hillary Clinton. You can always trust her to do what's right - for Hillary Clinton,' declared the ad, in a bad final move for a campaign that never seemed to be anything but anti-Hillary. Fresh off Sen. John McCain's presidential run, Murphy went zero for two in Senate races this year, losing the Michigan contest in addition to New York.

In New Jersey, Senator-elect Jon Corzine and his ad guru, Bob Shrum, managed to spend dollars 60 million on a race they won by just three points.

Meanwhile, Corzine's rival, Bob Franks, made the most out of his money.

In one 30-second spot titled 'My Turn,' produced by Smith & Harroff, Franks looks believably into the camera and says he'll bring 'experience and values to the Senate that all of Corzine's money can't buy.'

Shrum was this year's big Democratic winner, claiming five out of six Senate races he worked on, including Bill Nelson in Florida and Mark Dayton in Minnesota. Even though he only worked on one race, Republicans want to see elusive GOP media guru Arthur Finkelstein go following Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bill Roth's loss of the Delaware Senate seat to the state's governor, Tom Carper. Carper's media consultant, Neil Oxman of The Campaign Group, has meanwhile done his reputation no harm at all.



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