Ross Bates| Direct Mail Innovator| Tribute

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

Ross G Bates

Ross Bates will be missed

Photo credit: William Moree, Campaign Images.

Tuesday night was the memorial service for Ross Bates in DC. It's only fitting that Ross' memorial service started right before the Democratic Presidential primary debate and the WWE Network's showing of WWE NXT.

Ross G. Bates was an original guy. Methodical and quirky, Ross plodded through life forging his own path. He was one of the originators of the California style of direct mail. For those who don't know what that is, the California style was the fusion of design and cutting edge (at that time) targeting. He was an original thinker.

Ross was doing micro-targeting long before micro-targeting was a thing. He enjoyed the challenge of making the voter target match the strategy of the campaign. He would spend hours including and excluding universes based of demography, surname matches and geography.

When it came to races, Ross liked to be very hands on with his clients. He never saw it as his role just to do mail, he was on the team and did whatever he could to help.

He took clients based on a formula that had its basis in what he and Rich called the tsuris-to-profit ratio.  Tsuris is Yiddish for pain in the ass.  He did not look at races based on their viability, rather he looked at the race based on whether they're good people and easy to work with. Would he be treated like a partner in the race or like a vendor? Would they be honest and pay him on time?  As a consultant, he just wanted to be on the team and do his part.

As good a consultant as Ross was, he was just as good a person. Ross was a teacher, a mentor, and a friend to many. Ross Bates was never flashy. In an era of big personality consultants, Ross was the opposite. He was playful, down to earth, and honest.

He also liked to eat. Ross Bates was into road food before there was road food.  He found new places off the beaten path like Fat Burger, the Garbage Plate and the Anchor Bar. Back in the day, these were all haunts of Ross.  All of them great, none of them good for you.

Dressing up was never Ross's thing.  He had a sport coat that he would wear with suede patches on the sleeves long after they were popular. He was a magnet for stains. Wherever Ross went, a coffee or food stain was sure to follow. He was never bothered by it, it was just part of who he was.

Ross loved a primary almost as much as he loved professional wrestling. I think many of us wish we had gone to a wrestling match with Ross because it would have been a blast. I think what Ross loved about wrestling was the character development and the dichotomy of the good vs. evil characters.  They were, in a way, reminiscent of his political work, but Ross liked the bad guys in wrestling more than in politics.

I worked with Ross at BatesNeimand from 1999 to 2003. The two cycles I worked for him, I learned a ton. I left after 2003, but the things I learned from Ross Bates, Rich Neimand and BatesNeimand stick with me to this day.

For those of us lucky to know and work for Ross, the tsuris-to-profit ratio was low, he was a part of our team and the win bonuses were greater than we could ever repay.