Koch Brothers' Koch Industries Begins First National Ad Campaign

Part of Larger Communications Effort That Also Included a WSJ Op-Ed

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Koch Industries, the energy and packaged-goods giant, has introduced its first national TV ad campaign amid increasing attacks on its namesake founders, the billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch.

The ad will air Wed June 11.

The campaign, which promotes the company's American heritage and job creation without referencing the Koch brothers themselves, is part of a larger recruiting effort, said Steve Lombardo, chief communications and marketing officer for Koch since February. The company created his role as part of the overall push to boost its communications resources.

The ultimate goal is to "tell a story about who we are" to potential employees as well as businesses and people in local communities in which the company operates, he added.

Koch industries houses packaged-goods group Georgia Pacific, which owns consumer brands like Brawny and Dixie, as well as business-to-business operations. It was the second-largest private company in 2013 with $115 billion in revenue, according to Forbes, which also estimates the brothers' net worth at more than $40 billion each.

"We have seen in the last three to four years an increase in competition for talent," Mr. Lombardo said. "We're often competing against more well-known companies because they're almost always publicly traded. It benefits us if people have a better understanding of who Koch is."

Left-leaning politicians and advocates increasingly invoke the Koch brothers as old white men bankrolling conservative politics via entities like Americans for Prosperity, the hard-charging and heavy-advertising political advocacy group founded with their support.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has publicly scorned the "billionaire oil tycoons" for making hefty political donations benefiting conservative nonprofits and coalitions as well as for what he's described as causing climate change.

The brothers have responded to the recent attacks, suggesting some concern about their reputation or its impact on their company. In April, Charles Koch took to the street via a Wall Street Journal op-ed in which he argued that he was fighting for a free society. He also outlined some facts about his philosophy and Koch Industries.

They're the same facts touted in the new 60- and 30-second TV spots. "We started in the Heartland and expanded to nearly every state. Today that means more than 60,000 American jobs," the narrator says in the 60-second-spot before a call-to-action toward the end: "Find out more at kochcareers.com."

It's no coincidence. Mr. Lombardo said the op-ed and latest paid advertising initiative are part of an overall effort that includes both paid and earned media. "You'll be seeing more of that," he said of Mr. Koch's Journal op-ed. "It'll continue to compliment this ad effort in terms of informing and helping to recruit."

The brothers also made a splash this week with their $25 million donation to the United Negro College Fund.

But the two do not appear in the latest ad campaign. When asked whether the effort is an attempt to separate the company's founders from the corporate brand, Mr. Lombardo only said the ads' purpose is "to help people with their understanding of the breadth and scope of goods and services our companies provide."

In addition to TV, the seven-month campaign will include print, digital and social components. The broader effort will extend into at least 2015, Mr. Lombardo said.

The company reached out to multiple agencies but in the end asked its 30-person in-house group, Koch Creative Group, to write and produce the ads, he said.

Koch Industries spent $90 million on measured media in 2013, according to Kantar Media. Most of its spending was for its packaged-goods brands.

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