Case Study: Image rebranding wins Superior Court election

Case Study:  Image rebranding wins Superior Court election

Case Study: Image rebranding wins Superior Court election


Attorney Joe Wilson lost a race for Superior Court by more than 15 points, tarnished by repeated news stories on his past problems with alcohol.  In 2009, with the death of a sitting judge, a special election was called.  While considering a new campaign, Joe Wilson approached Wilson Strategic Communications about handling all messaging, media, and strategy for the campaign. Wilson was particularly concerned about the damage to his reputation from the previous campaign.


Consultants at Wilson Strategic have experience on more than 200 campaigns at every level of government.  With a short campaign timeline, WSC set out quickly to mitigate the baggage from the past campaign.  In addition to traditional TV advertising and direct mail campaigns, WSC built an innovative social media strategy to organize and disseminate campaign information to allies and supporters.

When US Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina screamed “You lie!” at President Obama during an address before Congress, some excited Facebook users mistook “our” Joe Wilson in their comments with “that” Joe Wilson. Wilson Strategic quickly rolled out a “Not THAT Joe Wilson!” campaign that played on, and capitalized upon, the misnomer. WSC fed the story to Seattle Weekly first, which helped build the story in the online community before it went mainstream.  When all was said and done, the story had a 5-day life cycle, running in over 1000 outlets in over 120 countries.

The candidate who once had some concerning history in the previous election cycle was redefined with voters as “our Joe Wilson.”


Our Joe Wilson – the candidate for Superior Court – won his second race by 9 points.  Wilson Strategic Communications won a national Reed Award from Campaigns and Elections Magazine for its work as the “Best Earned Media” of the 2009 campaign year.


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