The President Ford Committee's in-house advertising agency, Campaign '76 Media Communications, Inc., incorporated in December 1975. The agency's records document the creative inception, production, and placement of advertising on behalf of President Ford, from the design of a campaign logo in September 1975 until agency staff filed final reports with the Federal Election Commission in March 1977.
Peter Dailey, an advertising consultant to President Nixon's re-election committee in 1972, served as the first chairman of Campaign '76. He was assisted by vice president Bruce Wagner and a large and experienced staff, many of whom were on extended leave from positions in major advertising agencies across the country. (See Attachment A) Both Dailey and Wagner resigned because of strategy disputes with PFC officials and the Campaign '76 Advisory Board before the state primary elections were completed. Acting chairman Clayton Wilhite presided over a skeleton staff until the PFC hired John Deardourff as chief operations officer and Malcolm MacDougall as creative director immediately after Ford's nomination. Deardourff, an experienced political campaign consultant, appointed Phil Angell from his firm, Bailey, Deardourff & Eyre, to serve as executive vice president.
The chairman of Campaign '76 created and executed the advertising plan and budget, reported to the PFC chairman, and routinely attended weekly strategy sessions with top PFC and White House officials and occasionally the President. The agency's executive director oversaw the daily operations and monitored cash flow and budgeting. Media director Dawn Sibley and finance director Barry Lafer served as department heads and liaisons to President Ford Committee officials for both primary and general election campaigns, and remained on the staff during the interim.
The records of Campaign '76 provide technical, quantitative documentation of media placement planning, media buying, account reconciliation, and financial reporting required by federal law. The documentation is particularly extensive as it concerns the agency's expenditure of public funds, limited by the 1974 Amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act to approximate totals of $10.9 million for the primary campaign and $25 million during the general election campaign. The major impact these new limitations had on candidates' spending patterns is reflected in these records. The PFC and the campaign committees organized on behalf of other candidates channeled a large proportion of their funds into mass-media advertising, perceived to be the most cost-effective way to reach large audiences. As a result, campaign spending on various types of mass-media advertising during the 1976 campaign was proportionally larger than it had been during previous presidential campaigns.
Concern for cost-effectiveness is repeatedly documented in staff memoranda, and especially around the subject of campaign materials. Equally well-documented is the media buying system which expedited the campaign's record high broadcast expenditures. Media director Dawn Sibley purchased network availabilities for mass media advertising, but SFM Media Services, Inc., the contracted buying agency, bought time for spot television advertisements directed at local special interests. Important procedural guides in both primary and general election files describe the intricate logistics and various buying forms involved in this complex system created to meet the speed, flexibility, and legal requirements of political advertising. (See Attachment B)
There is substantial technical and quantitative material in many of the staff files concerning the production and approval of media plans, drafted by director of planning Carol Karasick, for states and various special voter groups. These plans determined the media mix and advertising costs for particular markets. Karasick developed plans based on state and market demographic studies and Republican voting data from elections in 1968 and 1972. Each plan and its accompanying budget had to be approved by media director Dawn Sibley, the chairman of Campaign '76, and the PFC chairman, in consultation with state PFC chairmen. Plans were modified frequently in response to Reagan or Carter advertising activity, polling results, budget and cash flow requirements, and White house directives.
The files of director of finance and administration Barry Lafer provide a complete record of Campaign '76's fiscal systems and cash disbursements. Lafer forecasted cash requirements to receive PFC funds, paid media charges on a weekly basis, accumulated costs, and reported expenditures to the PFC treasurer for inclusion in FEC reports.
The collection is divided chronologically into state primary and general election sections, with the most substantial, and less technical, files arranged toward the front of each division. As an exception, the primary and general election financial and accounting records in Barry Lafer's files are arranged adjacent to each other in a separate section at the end of the collection.
With the exception of Dodie Kazanjian's campaign materials files, and a small production accounts file, staff files from account and creative departments are not included in the collection. Nevertheless, copied PFC and inter-departmental memoranda are sometimes present in chronological files throughout.
The collection is limited in material for researchers interested in the more creative aspects of the advertising effort. While the files include scattered and interesting documentation of the campaign's creative mission, strategy evolution, and product conceptualization, the record is far from complete. For example, files generated by Malcolm MacDougall in his position as the chief creative strategist in the post-convention period are not a part of the files of Campaign '76. And while the files of the Campaign '76 chairmen and executive vice presidents are extant here, they only occasionally reflect either the creative genesis of ideas or their conceptual development.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the collection is the product record Campaign '76 left behind. Brochures and other campaign materials appear throughout the collection. The Ford Library's audiovisual collection is the custodial unit for tapes of more than one hundred television commercials produced by the office, as well as numerous radio advertisements created on President Ford's behalf. Not only are these video and audio tapes available to researchers, but many times Campaign '76's written records include the working, edited, and in some cases, rejected, scripts, as well.
Related Materials (as of October 1991):
Material related to campaign advertising on behalf of President Ford is scattered throughout many of the Library's most significant collections. Relevant documents appear in White House staff files and the records of other divisions within the President Ford Committee. The researcher should request a PRESNET search for specific citations.
Videotapes of television commercials and audiotapes of radio commercials produced by Campaign '76 are available in the Ford Library's audiovisual collection.