Sheldon Clay

Sheldon Clay

Clay is a long time member of the Twin Cities advertising community who has worked on national brands including Harley-Davidson and Porsche.


The shifting narrative of the abortion debate

By: - July 3, 2023

When someone is trying to sell you something, pay attention to the language they’re using. My long years in advertising taught me that. We’re a year-out from the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturning the longstanding precedent of Roe v. Wade, and the constantly shifting arguments of the anti-abortion side of the debate have been catching […]


Marketing and the midterms

By: - December 2, 2022

The 2022 midterm vote, and vote counting, are finally behind us. The people have spoken.  Now that we’ve had a moment to breathe we can start arguing about what exactly they said. For some useful nuance, I’d suggest a marketing perspective.   The wounded elephant in the room is the underwhelming performance of the Republican juggernaut […]


Dems need to grab the high ground of freedom

By: - August 16, 2022

As an ad guy I’m used to working on tightly choreographed brand campaigns, so I get frustrated with the communications efforts of the Democratic Party. And I’m not just talking about the annoying daily flood of emails from congressional candidates 10 states away pleading for a few dollars “to help me meet my urgent fund-raising […]


Do to guns what we did to cigarettes — make them culturally repellent | Opinion

By: - June 28, 2022

Maybe you’ve wondered how much innocent blood needed to get spilled to finally convince Senate Republicans that gun violence has spiraled out of control, and we need to do something. The back-to-back mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde gave us the unhappy answer. One month later Congress presented President Joe Biden with a modest bipartisan […]


To win the culture war, choose your words wisely | Opinion

By: - May 13, 2022

There’s a bit of wisdom in the ad business that “new” is the most powerful word you can attach to a thing you want to sell.  Persuading the mass public is more complicated than that, but it does offer a simple explanation for why midterm elections are a time of dread for the governing party. […]


Time is votes, and Democrats don’t have a lot of time | Opinion

By: - November 16, 2021

Five years before introducing its Cayenne SUV to the world, the German sportscar company Porsche hired me to help make their brand more family-friendly. Among the ads I worked on was one starring a young Kristen Stewart as a schoolgirl who kept missing the bus so she could catch a ride in her dad’s 911. […]


Use an old marketing trick to reach the hard-to-reach unvaccinated | Opinion

By: - May 28, 2021

Minnesota, like much of the nation, has gone all-in on vaccinations as our main battle tactic in the fight against COVID-19.  We’ve lifted mask mandates and social distancing guidelines, following surprise new guidance from the federal government. People are crowding back into cafes and stadium seats. Yours truly recently enjoyed his first professionally poured glass […]


Can the Democrats keep themselves on-brand? | Opinion

By: - March 18, 2021

It should be the best of times for the Democrats.  The competition’s business model has literally proven dangerous to people’s health. You won’t find a much better competitive advantage than that. And yet, I frequently see the same headline in the morning news. “The Dems are in disarray.”  That’s never easy reading for those of […]


Trump and his enablers have betrayed our country, and they should be held to account

By: - January 4, 2021

This thing that’s happening? No one knows what to call it. Despotism? A soft coup? A temper tantrum? Part of the problem is that it is — in the words of former Trumper Chris Christie — “an absurdity.”  I can be of some use here. Words are my stock and trade. This is a betrayal […]


An advertising creative on how Democrats can use this moment to claim mantle of “America’s Party”

By: - April 20, 2020

And now here we are, stuck at home, hoping we don’t run out of essentials, trapped in the post-apocalyptic existence many of us feared upon the election of President Donald Trump.  We need creative political thinking, but from Trump and his party loyalists we get two hour daily infomercials that are more like a window […]


Ad man to progressives: Use the power of branding to defeat Trump

By: - February 12, 2020

Branding is usually thought of as more a corporate than a political thing, but progressives should consider how good marketing can help them in a time of chaos, distraction and fiction spun out of the White House. Our president is gifted with a con artist’s eye for misdirection. He launches new controversies at a dizzying […]