Campaigns: Jesse the Pitchman

Jesse the Pitchman

"I want you to be somebody, and you can if you try . . . Pick up that phone and call now!" So exhorted the smiling face in the newspaper ad for a nationwide chain of vocational schools. Rarely has such an ordinary pitch received so much attention, but then this was no ordinary pitchman: it was Presidential Hopeful Jesse Jackson. The message, self-improvement through education, was vintage Jackson. The medium was a blitz of commercial advertisements for which Jackson was to receive an undisclosed payment.

No sooner had the first of the advertisements run in the New York Daily News...