Herzog's Campaigner Admits: We Thickened His Neck

Advertising guru Reuven Adler says Herzog's cowboyish campaign photo was unretouched, except for that detail.

Gil Ronen ,

Thick necked Herzog.
Thick necked Herzog.
Yonatan Sindel, Flash 90

When pundits said that Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu and Labor's Yitzhak Herzog were running neck-and-neck in the last election, they didn't know how right they were.

One month before the March 17 national elections, Labor hired advertising guru Reuven Adler to run its campaign, which had been blasted as ineffective.

One of Adler's first steps was to take Herzog's unpopular running mate, Tzipi Livni, and push her out of the campaign's focus. The next step was to rebrand Herzog. This was done, first of all, by making sure that everyone began to refer to him only by his last name, and not by his nickname, Buji, which has a babyish sound.

In addition, a new campaign poster was unveiled, depicting the scrawny Herzog as a tanned, leather-skinned tough guy gazing into the sunset. It has now been revealed that the photo was retouched to widen Herzog's neck.

This tidbit was revealed in a film made by a documentary team for Channel 10 show Hamakor, which accompanied the campaign.

Adler also told the lanky Livni not to be photographed hugging the diminutive Herzog, because such poses make him look “like he's her keyholder.”

Throughout the campaign, Herzog struggled with a wimpish image, in comparison to Netanyahu. 

Well before Adler's arrival on the scene, Herzog had been taking voice, speech and intonation lessons to try and put some more oomph in his somewhat chirpy delivery style.

Herzog spoke about his image in December 2013, saying he is portrayed as a weak figure "because I'm thin, and I don't have a low voice, and I have a baby face. They call me a nerd. I don't know what a nerd is. I live a normal life, keep a family lifestyle, devote myself into public needs. ...Maybe (being a nerd) is the right model for a public figure?"

His voice instructor, Rachel Hochman, told reporters that she is proud of her student when she listens to him speak. “In Israel it is rare, but in the US there is not one politician or even bank manager who does not work on his voice, because of the importance of a vocal presence, and I do not see anything wrong with it,” she opined.