Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Campaign Fashion - "Black is the New Black"

You're driving down the street, and you see a political yard sign. What color is it?

Nine times out of ten, it's solid blue or solid red with white offset lettering, or sometimes blue with gold as a tribute to our state flag. How Hoosierly patriotic! And how....yawn.....pedestrian.

I'm always on the lookout for the courageous candidate who tweaks color orthodoxy, and this year's winners are the candidates using black as their prominent color.

Jim Schellinger's signs look almost burgundy to me because of the heavy black presence, and I promise you, it stands out. I think it's tastefully done and decidedly different. And when you have to break through the clutter of multiple signs in front of many homes and in front of every abandoned roach hole in Indianapolis, that's a definite asset.

(As an aside, don't candidates think we're smart enough to realize that it's not all that impressive to have the endorsement of a boarded up crack house? And yet almost every campaign has staked claim to yards in front of homes Mayor Ballard was going to demolish really quickly before somebody informed him it cost money).

But I digress. Schellinger's tasteful combo is only outdone by Marion County Superior Court candidate Jim Osborn, whose red and black twist on a popular waving flag stripe design makes it my favorite sign of the year. The black instead of blue is subtle, which creates a nice use of "white space."

But just this morning, I noted a car with that burnt orangish glistening hue that's en vogue among sports car driving yuppies, and I said to myself, "I want to see something like THAT on a yard sign. Who has the guts to go ORANGE?"

THEN on my way down College Avenue today, I thought I'd found my man. It was a sign for Democrat Greg Taylor. I said to myself, "Here's a guy mixing it up." That was before I looked CLOSELY at the sign, and all the praise went out the window.

The sign says, "Greg Taylor" and "Senate [Blank white box]." In that box (I am NOT making this up), someone has hand-written "33," the state senate district number for which Mr. Taylor is running, which is held by retiring Senator Glenn Howard (one of the most good-natured guys in Indianapolis politics).

I couldn't stop laughing. BUT then the genius of it struck me. Say you want to run for an office but don't know what it is or WHERE it is. Don't worry about waiting to, ya know, find out your actual district number or even office. Just put "CANDIDATE JONES for [BLANK WHITE BOX]." Then have your people fill in the office that suits your fancy. With just one large order of signs (bulk savings, baby!), you can go from "STATE HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE" to "SECRETARY OF STATE" to "U.S. SENATE" to "PRESIDENT."

Just be sure to make them burnt orange. Or tangerine yellow with black lettering. Now THAT would be pushing the envelope.

Also, I'd like to see yard signs that not only have a name, but also a message. What good is seeing a name if there's no context. Give them something to remember WITH the name. Mayor Ballard, to his credit, KILLED with "Had Enough?" There is NOTHING that could have more succinctly harnessed the completely misplaced outrage of Indianapolis' voters.

My all-time favorite yard sign even "went negative." It was in Alabama, it was solid blue, and all it said was:

"Judge Lloyd - NO MORALS!"

Deadly. But it would have looked a lot better in chartreuse.



artfuggins said...

Good comments. I like the fact that several candidates are using the red background with white lettering. From a distance, they all look like the now very familiar Julia and Andre Carson signs......it certainly increases Andre's presence and it is not until you take a close look that you see that is for someone else. The common mistakes candidates make is trying to put too much info on one yard sign. Drivers get just a second to look so it needs to be simple.

Unknown said...

David O's sure are colorful..and big.

varangianguard said...


His signs are "big" because his name has eleven characters. If the signs were any smaller, legibility would become an issue. Right now, it's just pronouncibility.

Anonymous said...

varangianguard, David O's name is the least of his problem. His worst problem is that he has little money and the other is that lots of people and PACs donated big money and worked hard to get the state rep seat for him and then he walked away. Few if any of those people are supporting for congress.

Anonymous said...

You know, I believe I saw a stylin' Judge Tanya Walton Pratt orange sign today.

Worst of all time: vanquished Orentlicher opponent Kathryn Densborn's XL black yard signs with her creepy PHOTO on them. It automatically registered as a realtor's sign til you saw it a few more times.

Anonymous said...

I must be color deficient. I thought Jim Schelliger's sign were a midnight blue, not black.

Chris Worden said...


You are on the money. Tonya Walton Pratt has joined the power orange club. Well done, Your Honor!