Joe Slade White
About Joe (1950-2021)
Joe Slade White is recognized as one of the country’s most successful and creative media strategists. He was a veteran of over 400 political campaigns across the country, and was probably one of the only consultants to have won campaigns in five separate decades. His lifetime winning record was over 75%. His clients include U.S. Presidents, U.S. Senators, Governors, Members of Congress, and Mayors, as well as statewide ballot initiatives and Fortune 500 corporations. He once helped overthrow a right-wing government on Aruba.
His peers in the American Association of Political Consultants named Joe Slade White “The National Democratic Strategist of the Year” in 2014.
They had also awarded White more “Pollies” (Esquire Magazine called Pollies the “Oscars” of political media) than any other television consultant in the country.
White began his political career at 21. Still a senior at Georgetown University, he joined Senator George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign.
As a member of Senator McGovern’s traveling staff, White crisscrossed the country on the “Zoo plane” with traveling staff and a group of reporters that included Hunter Thompson. During the campaign, a White House Presidential Assistant, Charles Colson, was ordered to secretly compile a list of President Nixon’s “Enemies”. The first list didn’t seem large enough, so Colson widened it to include people from McGovern’s traveling staff. Which is how Joe Slade White came to be one of the youngest on the famous “Richard Nixon White House Enemies List.” After the campaign, White served on George McGovern’s U.S. Senate staff.
He started his own company, Joe Slade White Communications, at the age of 23.
“No one told me how truly crazy that was, leaving a safe U.S. Senate staff job. I was too young to know. I just went out and did it. Starved for a couple of years.”
Joe Slade White served as an advisor and consultant to President Joe Biden for nearly 30 years. White also wrote and directed the media for Beau Biden’s campaigns. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden asked Joe to create the film for them to introduce the public to their Biden Foundation.
Joe Slade White and his firm served as the National Agency of Record for Public Affairs Advertising for AT&T for 18 years. White’s award winning “Pickens Plan” media campaign for T. Boone Pickens ignited a national movement for renewable energy.
White helped elect the first woman in history to be Governor of Michigan, as well as the very first women to win statewide elections in Massachusetts, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.
The Washington Post named two of White’s campaigns – one for Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan and another for Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas – as among the “Ten Best Run Incumbent Campaigns in the Nation.” Salon.com chose a Joe Slade White’s spot for Granholm, “Twins” as one of the five best TV spots in the country. Jennifer Granholm won despite being outspent by her billionaire opponent by $27 million dollars.
Before his passing, White was writing a book on lessons he learned over the years winning hard campaigns and surviving in the somewhat crazy world of political campaigns. It has stories about the characters he’s encountered, worked with, (and worked against.) And in the book White also shares stories told to him by legendary political leaders like Speaker Tip O’Neill, President Joe Biden, Watergate’s Peter Rodino, Astronaut/Senator John Glenn, and others. Parts of the book, or the book as a whole, will be released at a later date.
White has taught as a Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy Institute of Politics and has lectured at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications. He had appeared as a commentator on politics and media for CBS, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
Asked about his middle name, White says, “I’ve had people ask, laughing, if I’d made it up. The true story was simpler. My mom was stubborn about it. Slade was her family’s name. And she was proud of it. They were hard working people, railroad workers in Mitchell, South Dakota. I like that she was stubborn.”
In his later years, Joe Slade White lived outside a small village in upstate New York.
“I lived in New York City for fifteen years; worked hard, learned a lot, and I experienced a city up close [that] I’d always wanted to see since I was a child. Now I’ve come full circle; I’m back to a life I knew as a boy. I like the idea that it’s 21st Century technology that allows me to work all over the world from a 19th Century village.
The village has a one screen movie theatre...a five and dime with wooden floors and a notions department...and during the Depression Mr. and Mrs. Price and Mr. Fisher decided to start a small toy company here. So the village also has the world headquarters of Fisher Price Toys. Sometimes it feels like It’s a Wonderful Life without Mr. Potter. Snows a lot. But when one doesn’t have to commute, a heavy snow takes on a whole different beauty. Imagine you’re sitting at your kitchen table editing a film on your laptop, having fun and working hard with your favorite editor, as if you’re working side by side, but he’s in a city a thousand miles away. I’m lucky.”
Joe Slade White passed away in the early morning of May 5th, 2021 from complications due to cancer.
The 9 Principles
Joe Slade White's fabled 9 Principles of Winning Campaigns has been handed down from generation to generation of political campaign operatives. Through his years of experience, Joe Slade White is able to boil down the critical insights he's learned about effective communication into 9 key points. You can read the 9 Principles by clicking the button below.
Here you will find a collection of some of Joe Slade White's best ads and interviews. Hover over any of the categories and click on the arrow to access the video catalogue.
If you wish to study more of Joe's work, his entire video archive is now housed at the Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive at the University of Oklahoma.