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TV son pitches video anthem

by: SARAH TOOR, Adam Klugman shows off his Portland office. His “We the People” video is still in rough form, but has been attracting viewers on YouTube.com for several months.

As the son of one of America's most beloved TV slobs, Adam Klugman knows the power of a good story line.

His dad, Jack Klugman, was Oscar Madison on 'The Odd Couple,' which ran on ABC for more than a decade.

As a child, Adam appeared on the show with his father and had a few other bit roles in movies, but acting never took.

'I hated it,' he said. 'I prefer to make my mistakes in private.'

Today, Adam Klugman, 44, makes his home in West Linn and runs a two-person advertising shop called Progressive Media Agency from a modish studio space on Northeast Broadway.

He has led a quiet life in Portland so far, while his dad, 85, still lives and works in Los Angeles.

Now Klugman - who also has a sharply funny streak - hopes to capture the hearts and minds of TV viewers across the nation in a big way. Not in comedy, like his father, but in politics, another area he's passionate about.

Klugman is working to produce a 90-second video spot he hopes will be used on television as the branding campaign for the National Democratic Party.

It's called 'We the People,' and although still in rough form, it's quickly gaining traction on YouTube.com and in political circles as party leaders endorse it.

He calls it an anthem, a song to lift people up. Rather than deal with policy, it's a montage of everyday people - teachers, farmers, moms, paramedics, pastors - who are issuing a call to progressives to fight for their values and work toward a common vision.

Klugman has summed up the fighting words with six verbs: think, speak, stand, create, believe, engage.

'These are the words that move people,' he said. 'Just like 'Call today,' ' the words he put on the screen for a commercial for 1-800-Dentist, a client he had years ago, before he switched his focus to political advertising.

'When people watch TV, they're in high states of receptivity,' explained Klugman, having written and edited commercials for 15 years. 'It's very passive. You shut down your thinking. … I thought, 'What would be the political application of that? What if we took that and motivated people to care?' '

While Klugman calls himself a progressive, he feels disillusioned with the democrats in office today, who he says succumb to partisan politics over principles.

'The party is kind of a deer in the headlights now,' he said. 'It doesn't know what to do.'

The problem, Klugman asserts, is that the Democrats are lacking a vision. So he used the campaign experience he garnered from his work on local elections - one for a slate of 'no growth' candidates in West Linn and, just recently, for the successful Ballot Measure 49, which closed loopholes in Measure 37.

Klugman and his neighbor, Dave Adams, came up with the curious black-and-white 'Love Oregon?' signs that were posted along roads to grab people's attention in a simple way.

Now Klugman wants to grab people's attention on a bigger scale. He's hoping his 'We the People' piece will move Democrats to be proactive.

Whose words are they?

Democratic party leaders, he said, 'broke the golden rule of branding - never let your competition define you. That's what's happening to the Democrats. We say pull troops out of Iraq. They say cut and run. We say stop illegal wiretapping. They say you're for the terrorists. We say separation of church and state. They say you don't believe in God.

'They're always filling in our sentences, telling our story for us. If we want our brand back, we have to take it by defining it.'

He's already gathered a wide circle of support. Klugman first presented his campaign at the 2006 Democratic Party of Oregon conference in Eugene, and then was invited to present it at the Association of State Democratic Chairs meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Rather than ask for money to help with the cost of producing the spot professionally (he estimates it will cost about $500,000), Klugman asked for letters of endorsement instead.

Nearly all in attendance - 33 party leaders from 22 states - signed letters of support for the grass-roots campaign, saying they'd like to see it used to help define the Democratic party during the 2008 elections.

'The political community knows Adam as an extremely talented, articulate advocate for progressives,' said Marc Siegal, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Oregon. 'The video is a perfect example of that. … It's a strong, powerful message. Anecdotally, I heard some folks even cried after seeing it.'

The party will be e-mailing the video to supporters and activists this week, Siegal said.

GOP considers its

brand, too

Not to be ignored, the Oregon Republican Party also is working to create its own message.

According to Brianne Hyder, the party's communications director: 'The Republican brand of individual responsibility, lower taxes and strong national security is one that inherently resonates with voters in Oregon. Our job in the coming months is to use new technology to communicate our message with as many voters as possible.'

The technology she refers to is the party's Web site, orgop.org, which includes state-specific and national information. State parties are using the Web to reach out to younger voters through social networking programs, she said.

Klugman, who isn't yet sure which Democratic candidate he'll support in the presidential election, said his agency isn't a partisan one.

'I'd love to bring Democrats and Republicans together,' he said. 'I think it's a false divide.'

To see the video spot, go to: www.youtube.com/watch?v=deKST0Xoigo.