Noem-as-worker concept proposed by firm that didn't win Freedom Works Here bid
Lawrence & Schiller proposal included sketches of governor as welder, winning company says 'jealousy' behind accusations it didn't create ad strategy
The theme of South Dakota’s Freedom Works Here marketing campaign is familiar now, Gov. Kristi Noem featured in various roles as a skilled worker inviting people to move to the state for a good job.
The idea for the campaign — Noem as the main pitch person in a series of ads — came out of a request for proposals issued by the Governor's Office of Economic Development in January. The company that produced and placed the ads was awarded the $5 million contract in a competitive bid process that compared proposals from seven firms.
You won’t find any reference to the governor as a welder or electrician or dentist in the winning proposal from Go West Media, however. No concepts – known as “the creative” in advertising and marketing circles – were included in the documents published on the state’s open records website.
It wasn’t Go West’s idea to begin with, based on documents and multiple interviews with sources close to the process.
The Noem-as-worker concept came from a different bidder, the Sioux Falls firm Lawrence & Schiller.
Documents obtained by Sioux Falls Live detail the plan, including sketches showing the welder scene that mirror the final product. How the concept from one proposal ended up in the product of a different bidder isn’t known.
Ian Fury, Noem’s spokesman, denies there was any copying of ideas in the bidding process and Go West’s leadership says they always intended to have the governor involved with a humorous approach.
“Given our long history of success in advertising, I’m not surprised at the jealousy of a few folks I’ve never heard of and who’ve never achieved those kinds of objectives for taxpayers,” Ben Yoho, the CEO of Go West’s parent company, said Thursday in his first public comments on the controversy. Go West Media is a “doing business as” entity in South Dakota of Strategic Media Placement, which is part of the political consulting firm The Strategy Group.
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