Voters might not think much of campaign signs, but candidates give them much more than a passing thought.
For those running for office on a limited budget, they are the primary means to message the masses.
Politicians pore over the proper colors, logos and prose to tell their story for an audience on the move. “Color and design all matter from an aesthetic standpoint, but I don’t know of any literature that documents that certain colors or designs work better,” said Bruce I. Newman, who has authored of a number of books including “The Mass Marketing of Politics: Democracy in an Age of Manufactured Images.”
The professor of marketing at DePaul University in Illinois recommends a concise, clear message that communicates to people.
“That takes precedence over anything else one would ponder as they contemplate a run for office,” Newman said.
The seven men seeking to become the first mayor of the Macon-Bibb consolidated government put together a varied palette of placards for public perusal.
Telegraph readers can choose the best sign designs on The Telegraph’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/TelegraphGA.
Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen shied away from putting up hundreds of signs for this campaign.
After last year’s issue over signage illegally clogging rights of way, Allen took to the streets and publicly championed reducing clutter.
“I probably have about 500 signs in my other car that I haven’t even given out,” Allen said this week.
Instead, he’s handing out business cards to people in his path and driving all over town in his Toyota Rav4 wrapped with his picture on a rolling resume of accomplishments.
“I wanted people to know who I was,” said Allen, who includes two of his accomplishments in the design. “I’m the founder of Kids Yule Love ... a firefighter for 30 years, and I gave them my number where they can reach me.”
When he thought of a word to sum up his image, “Trust is what I wanted to do,” he said.
Allen’s post office box address also is featured in a scheme of purple, blues, oranges and green with white letters.
“It was just a remarkable idea,” he said. “I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t.”
Designer Eric Thompson of the Sign Station said he wanted something that was eye-catching, would pop and be memorable.
When former Bibb County Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop entered the 2013 mayoral race, he decided to stick with his signature colors of green and yellow.
Bishop used them in 2000 when he first sought office after retiring as deputy chief of the Macon Police Department.
“BP and John Deere must know it attracts attention,” Bishop said.
He acknowledges he copied the combination from a Charles Bishop who successfully used them to win an election for Alabama agriculture commissioner.
While still on the Macon police force, an officer gave him a couple of the Alabama Bishop’s signs.
“He had used a red and white sign and he had gotten beat miserably,” said Macon’s Bishop, who prefers the brilliance of the yellow and green.
“The sun hits it, and it lights up like neon,” he said.
Bishop worked to get his signs out early in the campaign when they get the most attention, he said.
He also likes to pull a larger sign behind his late wife’s Jeep that he had painted yellow with a green wrap on the back window telling motorists to vote Bishop on Sept. 17.
Just three words are on his sign, “Charles Bishop Mayor.”
“You don’t want any pictures. You want it plain and simple so it will carry the message to vote for Charles Bishop for mayor,” he said. “When they walk in, they’ll remember that name.”
Simplicity with an eye toward the visually impaired explains the motive behind David Cousino’s message in monochrome.
“I just basically kept it simple,” Cousino said while waving to cars near the Bibb Board of Elections. “When you get color in there, it’s too hard for a person who can’t see colors, so I just kept it as simple as possible by using black and white.”
Atop the sign that reads “David Cousino ‘DC’ Mayor” is the candidate’s cellphone number.
“If you call it right now, it will go right here to my pocket,” he said while giving the thumbs-up sign to passing cars. “When you’ve got your number, you got the person.”
Cousino also includes a “Paid for by friends of DC” at the bottom of the sign, which the Federal Elections Commission requires for federal candidates.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office required financial attribution on signs when Cousino first ran for mayor in 2007, but the code section was repealed in 2008.
The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission does not currently require the disclosure, said Executive Director Holly LaBerge.
Cousino thinks that is a mistake.
“I’d still do it,” he said. “It’s something the people should know.”
C. Jack Ellis
C. Jack Ellis, a two-term mayor, takes brevity a step further.
His last name dominates his yard signs, with the word “mayor” and his website across the bottom in much smaller letters.
“Simple, to the point,” Ellis said.
That can be an asset when people are whizzing by on their way to work or running errands.
“We don’t want to have to read a lot. We just want to see the name, the office and the website,” he said while waving to cars. “That’s all we want them to see.”
Reading between the lines, he hopes people notice a hint of his persona in the selection of red and blue backgrounds beneath white letters.
“Being a patriot that I am, Vietnam veteran, so I believe in red, white and blue,” he said. “So we always want to have that color somewhere.”
He realizes he could have saved money by using just one color, but he thought the extra expense was worth it.
“I thought the red, white and blue was very, very important to me and significant and symbolic, and hopefully it’s important to other people as well,” he said.
It’s a message he hopes will resonate with voters.
“Ellis -- that’s what they’re going to see on the ballot,” he said.
Anthony B. Harris
One candidate’s name is not on the ballot -- Anthony B. Harris.
The political newcomer is a write-in candidate who wanted his sign to represent him in the easiest way possible.
“I figure it tells the most about me than any other candidate’s sign does about them,” he said.
The black, red and gold stripes pay tribute to the German flag, a nod to his mother, who is from Berlin.
The red, white and blue letters represent his American heritage.
“Write in ‘ANT’” gives an abbreviated suggestion for voters who might not remember his full legal name, which also is on the sign.
The “A” in the word “mayor” is the symbol for anarchy, “since I’m an anarchist,” said Harris, who dressed in a Spartan costume to carry his sign at the corner of Vineville and Pio Nono avenues on the first day of early voting.
The costume was to call attention to the sign, which he hopes will open a dialogue about his philosophy.
“It basically means no rule. It doesn’t mean chaos. It doesn’t mean terrorism,” Harris said. “If we respect one another, you don’t have to be told to do that. You don’t have to be monitored by a government. You don’t have to be monitored by a police force.”
Bibb Commission Chairman Sam Hart’s sign merges his old political strategy with a new vision for the future.
President Barack Obama’s successful campaigns provided inspiration for Hart’s new campaign logo.
His initials, written in white on a circle of blue and green, mimic the “O” that became synonymous with Obama.
“Think Community” has been his motto since he was elected chairman in 2008.
With the advent of a combined government, he has added “Creating a Future Together.”
“I think it’s going to be important in creating the new future that a new team is put in place to create the plan to do it together,” Hart said as he held up the sign for passing motorists on Vineville Avenue.
He looked to the next generation of media-savvy political supporters for help choosing green and blue to communicate the merged slogan.
“Part of what we’re hoping for is that the community that we planned is a planned community and that it is environmentally friendly,” Hart said. “And more than anything else, that it is one of the ones that comes out of listening to people.”
Environmental friendliness is a subliminal message Robert Reichert hopes to convey with his color scheme of blue and green.
“There’s a lot more that goes into these signs, that are well designed, than you might think,” Reichert said.
The current mayor sought professional advice from a design firm that solicited thoughts on his vision before submitting several suggestions.
The winning design etches his name in blue, with Reichert framed in green, sitting slightly submerged in a wave of blue that fills the bottom half.
The curving border, at the water’s edge in the middle, is highlighted in green that trails from a blue star.
“The swirl is supposed to indicate something as far as the resurgence of Macon and the star at the end is to call attention to ‘the sky is the limit,’” Reichert said.
His slogan is written in white in the sea of blue at the bottom: “Let’s Keep Building a Better Macon-Bibb.”
“The message is one that is crafted, researched, thought about and put in place,” he said.
“We liked this one because we thought it had a fresh, clean appearance. We loved the idea of the subliminal message it sends and we thought it was an eye-catcher and would have pop to it as well.”
To contact Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.