Donny Deutsch Explains Sarah Palin

No, I won’t give you the following 3 minutes and 44 seconds of your life back. You just have to watch this.

“Women want to be her, men want to mate with her. it’s as simple as that…”

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Donny is an embarrassment to both his gender and the human race. He is not smart, he is not funny, he is not insightful. He is the big-mouthed guy at a party or a sporting event that you move away from as fast as you can.

  2. It’s clear that Deutsch has transitioned from adman to TV celebrity (at least in his own mind). Yet you can’t help but wonder how much he still represents Madison Avenue, particularly the industry’s male leaders. AMC series Mad Men quite clearly presents the sexism and misogyny rooted in our ranks. And others have argued the bias continues, despite the progress women have made. As an industry, should we officially condemn Deutsch, or at least try to distance ourselves from his ignorance? Or will we allow him—as a prominent ex-adman—to continue to define us as narrow-minded, discriminatory, rude pigs? Should we also take a closer look at the corner offices of Madison Avenue to see how many leaders still reflect and/or share Deutsch’s primitive perspectives? More likely, the introspective examination will never even begin.

  3. “She’s a lioness. Who wouldn’t want a lioness protecting their cubs?”
    Putting The Donny’s personality and feminist criticism aside for the moment, he does present something thinking worth looking at. Do the Republicans know how to sell to the American mainstream better than the Dems? I think there’s an argument that they do. “Will it play in Peoria?” is the question of the day. The Donny is saying Palin goes over big in Peoria. He also said the Dems will counter her with left brain, policy-based stuff. I think he’s right about that and frankly it scares me. We don’t need another close election that can be manipulated by partisan courts. Yet, if Dems fail to connect with mainstream voters (and it looks like they are failing to do so), it’s another crap shoot.

  4. David,
    I might argue that it’s no longer proper to refer to an “American mainstream.” Contrary to definitions created by the ad industry, America has always been very diverse (and I just don’t mean that from just a racial and ethnic standpoint). That’s why so many ads lately have managed to entertain one group while outraging or alienating another. The Republicans are not better at selling to any “mainstream”—rather, they’re better at selling to their fan base within the overall “mainstream,” just as the Democrats are better at selling to their enthusiasts. After all, John McCain probably drafted Palin to counter his own polarizing inability to know how many homes he owns. In this election, the deciding factors will be the outsiders and fence-straddling groups. But there certainly are implications for the ad industry, as we are coming to see the impossibility of addressing a mass market audience.

  5. It’s easy to write Donny off. Nobody in our biz trusts anyone in our biz, especially when they’re a celebrity, albeit a minor one. Still, I agree with David: DD makes a good case for the Republicans picking someone they can sell. Cynical as the equation is, her brand attributes are as he said they are. And anyone in advertising who says they never equated brands with people is a liar. “If X product were a person who would it be…” We all do it.

  6. @PoliticalPundit – on ethnic and economic diversity and it’s place in American culture and history, i agree completely. however, i think there is still such a thing as “mainstream America.” it is populated by the diverse people you speak of. you also mention “fence-sitters” which is what i’m getting at. the Clinton supporters who don’t care for Obama could throw this election to McCain and I believe that’s what Palin on the Rep. ticket is all about–appealing to this specific group of “mainstream” American working women. we all know how the people entrenched on the left and on the right will vote. but we don’t know how the middle is going to vote. in 2000 and 2004 they clearly voted against their own interests. what’s to say they won’t do so again?

  7. David is right.
    the republicans do a much better job of hitting americans in their sweet spot. and they succeed by dumbing things down. and i mean that in a good way!
    domestic drilling = cheaper gas, for example. while the democrats fail by intellectualizing things like the ins and outs of the reality of the oil industry. the republicans understand that they’re talking to homer simpson.
    the republicans are permanently pissed off. even when they’re the incumbents. and anger jumps off the tv screen. as john lydon memorably sang: anger is an energy. the dems strain to appear in control and dignified. that makes for bad tv by comparison.
    americans just want to see Rocky. again and again. the republicans get this. the dems don’t.

  8. Agree with everyone to certain extents. But if the Republicans really understand the mythical “mainstream,” why didn’t someone like Sarah Palin show up until now? Were the candidates who lost to McCain really touching the “mainstream”—even Huckabee? Would Obama be a viable candidate at all if Bush and his crew hadn’t completely alienated the average citizen? I continue to believe the new “mainstream” is comprised of multiple groups segmented by things like spirituality, conservatism, liberalism, etc. One important thing dividing this “mainstream” is the way they make a living. The Republican “mainstream” has more blue-collar laborers—factory workers, etc. The Democratic “mainstream” has more blue-collar creative class, for lack of a better term. Both these groups are making roughly the same amount of money these days. If the Democrats are intellectualizing, it’s because their “mainstream” can handle such communications. Deutsch actually comes off like a Republican in his old-school dumbing down of Palin.
    @David: I think the 2000 and 2004 elections had to do with another important factor: the fickleness (for lack of a better term) of the American public. It seems like it’s impossible for a party to maintain power for more than 8 years. People weren’t embracing Bush in 2000, so much as they were rejecting Clinton. And some would argue that Bush technically didn’t beat Gore. Bush benefited from his military actions in 2004. He convinced everyone it was dangerous to veer from the (military) course he had set. It isn’t hard to argue that Obama is benefiting from the public rejection of Bush—even McCain is careful to distance himself from his own party (just as Gore tried to distance himself from Clinton).

  9. @SRP: You typed, “Nobody in our biz trusts anyone in our biz, especially when they’re a celebrity, albeit a minor one.”
    Technically, there are surveys that show nobody in America trusts anyone in our biz—period. Remember, we’re only a rung above lawyers and used-car salespeople. Donny isn’t helping the cause.

  10. Donny is the epitome of what is wrong with our industry. Shallow, glib and trying too hard to be hip: ie, the blue jeans and sports coat look. And please folks, stop saying that people have brand attributes–iit sounds so fucking dumb. Long before there were “brands” there were people. And those people had personalities.

  11. Sarcasm and venomous darts work well when you are preaching to the choir. Each convention had its crazies in top form, raving and screaming at every dramatic pause as if there was an applause sign.
    It’s only the 4th inning, and as a true Red Sox fan, I know that no lead is insurmountable or safe. The debates and interviews will start working away on the mythical moderates of Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. If you don’t live in one of these states, you may agree with me that the electoral college may lose its accreditation in our lifetime.
    I’m sick of my vote not counting on the national level.

  12. I’m sorry, I just read my comment and it’s completely off topic. Deutsch reflects on me as someone in the biz as much as Palin symbolizes my Alaskan born and raised wife.
    Unfortunately, we cannot help who pushes their way to the front of the crowd, or camera.

  13. kokomjolk,
    I’m not sure anyone here stayed on topic. But going back to Deutsch, I continue to wonder if he taints or represents the business. Like it or not, we have a bad reputation. Neil French brought the sexism and misogyny to life just a few years ago. Donny’s dumbing down is not just hurting our collective credibility, it’s not even accurate or informed. Hillary Clinton, in her pantsuit, collected 18 million votes in the primaries. Alaska doesn’t even have 700,000 citizens—and a lot less who even vote. This notion that women want to be Palin and men want to sleep with her is both crude and ignorant. I definitely have no desire to bed the woman. And I don’t go into the office every day thinking such things about the women I work with. I will say, however, that I see and work with a lot of men in Donny’s generation who spew the same sort of bullshit. Yes, Donny does not reflect me. But I’m tired of having to tell people that he’s atypical of the professionals in our ranks. You say we cannot help who pushes their way in front. I wonder why we don’t push him back and instruct him to shut the fuck up. Or better yet, demand that he leave. If Donny were a member of the Republican or Democratic parties, peers would be publicly condemning his statements. If Barack Obama or John McCain made the statements, the election would be over for them. But even here, we’ve got admen agreeing with Donny.

  14. But even here, we’ve got admen agreeing with Donny.
    No one’s agreeing with The Donny’s male chauvinist pigness. Just pieces of his ad guy’s assessment of the Palin brand, and what it might do for McCain.

  15. Sorry, guess I misread this:
    “Cynical as the equation is, her brand attributes are as he said they are.”

  16. pundit, alas martin sorrell and maurice levy officially “represent” our biz these days.
    love him or hate him, at least donny was a real ad guy. yes he’s loud, brash and a bit shallow. and from new york. but then so are a lot of the most successful in the ad game. so maybe he’s just a more accurate representation than we’d like. where are all the quiet, introspective and timid ad whizzes when you need them?
    and though his analysis is made-for-talk-tv crude, he does have a point about Gov.Palin’s broad appeal. In case you hadn’t noticed, she’s a lot hotter than Cheney. A lot.
    and having five kids automatically means moms will identify with her to a greater extent than if she just had one or two children.

  17. Oh, no doubt Palin has qualities that voters may find appealing. I’m just not in agreement they are as Donny described them. The woman is a conservative hockey mom. And like it or not, she’s a leader. To dumb it down in Deutsch fashion is stupid, and actually insults the general population. Creative people always hate when morons try to instruct us to play to the lowest common denominator. Isn’t Deutsch doing just that?

  18. See, I wonder if Palin’s positive attributes are only on the surface and the constant scratching and digging that will occur in the next two months will reveal some ugly lumps. So far, we’ve had a one way discussion with her as a nation. Eventually,she’ll have to have interaction with the media, and more than just Foxnews. And her being sheltered cannot last forever. She may crack.
    I mean, does anyone remember the Dean campaign before the moment which will remain nameless?
    Maybe Palin is due for one of her own. Maybe she isn’t. Right now, all we have are superficial ideas of who this woman is, and maybe that just creates superficial commentary.

  19. Adweek’s Barabara Lippert also tackles the hot topic of the day/week/month.

    From the moment she first appeared with McCain, in Ohio, Sarah Palin has proved to be a force of nature. For the GOP, she’s become an Obama-like energy source, and her entrance has transformed the race. The idea of a fresh “narrative” has become a political buzzword lately, and boy did she deliver a bonanza of a story: She’s an icon, an archetype and an instant brand.

    Lippert also argues that the Pale One is a feminist.

    Palin is a classic third-wave feminist, benefiting from all that came before her in terms of the women’s movement, while remaining the embodiment of patriotic, religious, small-town values.

    But that’s not how Feministing sees it.