Running out of money, staff departures and a boatload of incredibly negative media stories, July was as bad of a month for Senator McCain’s presidential campaign. There was no way to sugarcoat all of the negative news and the campaign desperately needed an infusion of cash. The campaign needed to take immediate action to help diffuse the situation before the final lights went out.

Aside from the obvious goal of raising much needed funds for the campaign, we wanted to tackle all of the bad press head-on using some of the vaunted “straight talk” for which Senator McCain is known. Our goal was to make this appeal extremely personal and re-introduce Senator McCain to the donors who have supported him in the past and remind them why they joined the campaign in the first place.

We mailed the solicitation in a blank carrier with first-class postage. This added a mystery element to the piece and increased the likelihood that the recipient would open the letter. To help us achieve the personal feel we were looking for, we used a very simple letterhead and all courier type which makes the appeal feel like a personal correspondence from the Senator. For the higher dollar donors, we included a stamped RA envelope instead of a traditional BRE.

Despite the negative climate surrounding the campaign and the traditionally poor fundraising month in which this appeal mailed, results were simply astounding. The mailing netted over $500,000 which is over 40% more than anything mailed previously or subsequently. We achieved these results while only mailing to about half as many donors as previous solicitations. While this mailing was in the third quarter of the year, the stellar results allowed the campaign to put a positive spin on weaker than expected second quarter fundraising reports that came out later in the month.

Both the New York Times and Time magazine carried quotes from this appeal and cited the boost that it gave to the campaign during the troubled summer months. Throughout the summer and fall, both Senator McCain and the campaign’s manager referenced the incredible outpouring of support generated by this package as a sign of the Senator’s political viability and of his future success in the primaries.

2008 Pollie Recipient