Stage Design Magic as Propaganda Tool

One of the most interesting (for this blog) stories from the Iraq war was about the design of the U.S. military's press room in Qatar:

"A scene in which the US army spokesman, General Tommy Franks, addressed journalists cost $200,000 and was produced by a designer who had worked for Disney, Metro Goldwyn Mayer and the television programme Good Morning America. In 2001 the White House had put him in charge of creating background designs for presidential speeches – unsurprising to those aware of the ties between the Pentagon and Hollywood.

More surprising was the Pentagon decision to recruit David Blaine for interior design; he is a magician famous in the US for his TV show and for conjuring tricks such as levitating or being shut in a cage without food." (Le Monde Diplomatique, Jan 2008, but the details have been widely circulated since the war's start).

Today, pictures of the two stages for the upcoming democratic extravaganza are making rounds on the net. Take a look at the designs: Republican (still a computer rendering; here's another angle) and Democratic. From "The stage was designed to facilitate the candid and personal tone that Americans have come to expect from Senator McCain. The intimate setting will be a fitting backdrop for Senator McCain’s acceptance speech."

And some behind-the-scenes details from Denver Post: "They [DNC] will bring so many lights and speakers — as many as 300,000 pounds' worth — the ceiling will have to be reinforced to hold them."

Would love to know who's behind the designs.

Update: thanks to AdLab's readers (Nishad and Bonniel; see comments), we now know: for DNC, it's Tribe Design and it's David Nash (exec. producer, it's his fifth straight convention; press release) for RNC.

Let me see if I can pull some pictures of other similar gatherings elsewhere. Should be a fun study. Stay tuned.


  1. The guys from Tribe Inc it seems

  2. One more link

  3. Evening Ilya,

    Found out a little info about production designers for both political parties.

    DNC - Bruce Rodgers, Tribe Design, based in LA. Credits include: Madonna and other rock star shows, Super Bowl half-time shows.

    RNC - David J. Nash, based in NYC. Credits include: Radio City Music Hall, John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, New York Metropolitan Opera.

    Personally, I think the DNC stage looks similar to American Idol.


  4. The Democrats hired Tribe, purveyors of glitz and glamour sets for Madonna and other rock shows? McCain's brilliant "Celeb" ad comes to mind: Paris Hilton has Huffington in a Huff

  5. Yeah, well, and Pentagon hired a Disneyland designer and a magician. What does that bring to mind?


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