As the 2008 presidential campaign heats up, Manhattan Mini Storage has launched a new set of anti-Republican ads.
On billboards, phone booths, and in subway cars, the ads pillory the current administration. One reads: "Your closet's scarier than Bush's agenda." Another, which features a large man wearing an "I Heart Halliburton" pin, states: "Your closet's so narrow it makes Cheney look liberal." A third makes reference to the 2006 congressional election: "The Democrats cleaned house, why don't you?"
The Manhattan Mini Storage Company, a division of Edison Properties, has long been known for pushing the envelope with its ad campaigns. Last August, the company mounted billboards that poked fun at the television series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and the film "Brokeback Mountain."
Some think the new ads have gone too far. In recent weeks, the Republican blogosphere has been awash with disapproving posts. A contributor to the right-leaning Web log Kesher Talk, Mara Schiffrin, said the campaign is "egregiously political for no reason and extremely off-putting." Ms. Schiffrin added: "What does the Republican administration have to do with closets? I don't need extra space right now, but if I did I certainly wouldn't use Manhattan Mini Storage."
Another conservative Web log, Hip Hop Republican, is urging its readers to call the chairman of Edison Properties, Jerome Gottesman, to voice their dissatisfaction. The owner of Hip Hop Republican, Richard Ivory, said "Republicans in this city need to make it clear that they won't stand for public humiliation."
Edison Properties declined to comment, as did Vice President Cheney's office.
The Manhattan Mini Storage billboards and posters are reminiscent of Kenneth Cole's advertising strategy. Mr. Cole, who is married to Governor Cuomo's daughter and who makes sizable annual donations to the Democratic National Committee, has used social politics to promote his fashion line.
During the 2004 presidential election, the Kenneth Cole company issued a pro-gay marriage ad that read: "52 percent of Americans think same-sex marriage doesn't deserve a good reception. Are you putting us on?" A double entendre, the ad depicted two men wearing black shirts designed by Mr. Cole.
The Gottesman family, which owns and operates Edison Properties, is not as enmeshed in the Democratic establishment as Mr. Cole. Campaign records from the last several years show that the Gottesmans make frequent financial contributions to both Democratic and Republican candidates. Jerome Gottesman donated $4,000 over three years to John Sweeney, a former Republican congressman. He has also donated to the Democratic National Committee Service Corps and to Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat.
Despite unrest in the blogosphere, some advertising industry professionals argue that left-leaning ad campaigns are a good business strategy for New York City, which is overwhelmingly Democratic. In the 2004 presidential election, for example, 73.82% of New York City voters cast their ballots for the Democratic nominee, Senator Kerry.
The director of strategy for a New York-based advertising agency, Consortium Communications, Emily Heyward, said Manhattan Mini Storage "is making certain assumptions about the political affiliations of their clientele, but those assumptions are probably correct. Their ads target young New Yorkers who don't have a lot of space. Chances are, those people will think the ads are funny and relevant."
The chief executive officer of the marketing firm Brand Communications, Brian Martin, agreed with Ms. Heyward. "In New York," he said, "these ads will delight more than they offend."
A spokesman for the New York Republican County Committee, Marcus Cederqvist, said his office has not received any complaints regarding the ads.