Before our firm was Gunster Strategies Worldwide, we were Goddard Gunster. Ben Goddard – also known as the “Godfather of Issue Advocacy” – is often credited with creating the genre of advocacy advertising with the Harry & Louise campaign to oppose Clinton healthcare in 1993-94.
Around the same time, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin realized he needed Western-style advertising to get his party’s referendum approved by voters. The stakes were high – if he failed, democracy in Russia might diminish. Yeltsin turned to Goddard, who crafted ads juxtaposing the old Soviet government with hopeful images of Russian children.
Understanding that 98 percent of Russian homes had a television, he jumped at the opportunity to reach as many Russian citizens as quickly as possible. He pushed out a simple message in his ads – “They can never force us to go back to the way things were if we take the time to vote.” Goddard played a significant role in “salvaging…democratic-style reforms in Russia” with this campaign.
Enter Gerry Gunster. Although Gerry was one of the few campaigners to beat Ben on Proposition 5 in California, Gunster became Goddard’s mentee. And in 2013, Gunster went up against New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bloomberg was trying to cap the size of sugar-sweetened beverages allowed to be sold, putting hundreds of New York beverage vendors and business owners in danger of going out of business. Gunster did an ad push across print, radio, social media, and TV to reach as many New Yorkers as possible. These messages moved constituents enough to defeat it, citing an overreach of government power.
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A few years later, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans for a voter referendum questioning his country’s membership in the European Union. Recognizing the need for expert assistance, the Leave.EU campaign hired Gunster to bring the latest in issue advocacy techniques to the UK to help make their case to British voters.
As one of the lead consultants on "Brexit" Gunster helped make a losing campaign winnable. On Election Day, history was made with nearly 52% of British voters deciding to leave the European Union.
Gunster Strategies Worldwide opens office in Tiblisi, Georgia.
Gunster Strategies Worldwide partners with The University of Britain in Georgia.
Gunster Strategies launches online platform "Issue Advocacy 101" - lectures at Georgetown University, American University, George Washington University.
Gunster Strategies Worldwide wins Presidential campaign in West Africa.
Gunster Strategies Worldwide opens office in Cairo, Egypt.
Gunster partners with long-time associate Matt Rodriguez, Obama Western States Regional Director, to form a second company, 1st Tuesday Campaigns.
Goddard passes away in Virginia home.
Goddard Gunster rebranded to Gunster Strategies Worldwide.
Gunster Addresses Oxford University.
Brexit Passes. Gunster wins "International Consultant of the Year."
Gunster wins "Advocacy Campaign of the Year" for the defeat of Bloomberg Soda Ban.
Goddard Gunster retained to run campaign for Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister.
Goddard Gunster is formed.
Gerry Gunster is appointed Partner, Goddard Claussen.
Ben Goddard launches "Harry and Louise," and Clinton's health initiative fails.